Dr. Michael Victor Edelstein, whose career at Sheppard Pratt Health System spanned nearly 30 years and whose hobbies were auto repair and listening to gospel music, died of a heart attack Monday at St. Joseph Medical Center.
The Cockeysville resident was 66.
Dr. Edelstein was on his way to work Monday morning when he was stricken. He was taken by medics to St. Joseph Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.
"I've know Michael since I came to Sheppard Pratt in 1986, and he was one of the most remarkable doctors I've ever worked with," said Dr. Steve Sharfstein, Sheppard Pratt Health System president.
"Michael was triple-board-certified in family medicine, psychiatry and geriatrics, and had a great capacity to link with patients. He would do anything for his patients and colleagues," he said.
The son of a businessman and an artist, Dr. Edelstein was born in Baltimore and raised on Strathmore Avenue in Pikesville.
He was a 1963 graduate of City College and earned his bachelor's degree in 1967 from the University of Maryland, College Park. He was a 1971 graduate of the University of Maryland School of Medicine.
Dr. Edelstein completed a rotating internship at Mercy Medical Center in 1972, then completed a three-year residency in psychiatry at Sheppard Pratt in 1977.
From 1977 to 1979, he completed a residency in family medicine at Washington Adventist Hospital.
He worked for the U.S. Public Health Service for two years and at the family practice clinic at the University of Maryland before joining the staff of Sheppard Pratt in 1983, where he practiced psychiatry and family medicine.
"His death is a huge loss. He was one of Sheppard Pratt's great treasures," said Dr. Robert Roca, vice president of medical affairs at Sheppard Pratt and the hospital's medical director. "He was extremely compassionate and dedicated to his work. He used to describe himself as an 'old-school physician' when it came to caring for his patients."
He said Dr. Edelstein was willing to help or fill in whenever colleagues needed him to and was known for his sense of humor.
"He had a unique sense of humor that was very self-deprecating and endearing. He had no detractors, and his humor was never at anyone else's expense," said Dr. Roca. "He'll always be remembered because he was so widely known throughout the system at Sheppard Pratt and widely loved."
"He was very smart, and the odd thing about him was that he was so endearing and reliable. He knew many things and applied them to his job," said Dr. Sharfstein. "His philosophy of life was that he wanted to fix things, whether they were patients or cars."
Dr. Miles S. Quaytman, a psychiatrist at Pratt, was a longtime colleague and friend.
"If ever I needed a consult, he was the person I'd send the patient to. He was an excellent doctor and someone you could talk to about anything," said Dr. Quaytman. "In the curve of human behavior, he was the outer curve and was filled with great wisdom," he said. "If you were having trouble, he'd do anything to help you out.
"He was also extremely generous. He'd reach into his pocket and give people money or even buy them cars. Not many can say that they would do that," Dr. Quaytman said. "Because he was always doing practical things for people, this is why he was so highly respected and loved. Sometimes people took advantage of him, but he was never bitter."
Dr. Edelstein was an expert auto mechanic, and it wasn't uncommon to see his legs sticking out from underneath a car in the Sheppard Pratt parking lot as he made repairs.
"We're not supposed to go on ladders, and here he was underneath cars. He told me he always wanted to be a mechanic, but his mother made him become a doctor," said Dr. Quaytman. "He'd fix his colleagues' and patients' cars. He'd diagnose what was wrong with your car and then fix it."
Dr. Edelstein's favorite car was a Subaru, which he enjoyed working on. He fixed family members' or neighbors' cars and when they called, quickly offered roadside assistance.
He was a fan of Southern-style gospel music and was owner of a music promotion company and part-owner of the Blue Ridge Quartet, a singing group.
"He was the quintessential little Jewish guy, but he really was a very spiritual person. He loved going to gospel concerts," said Dr. Quaytman. "He found the ritual soothing, and he had great belief in a higher power."
Three years ago, Dr. Edelstein converted from Judaism to Catholicism. He was a communicant of Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church in Glyndon.
"Michael was an unusual person. He thought you had to do good in the world but you could still have fun doing it," said Dr. Quaytman. "He was a man who made people smile."
"Although quirky, Michael had many layers," said a stepson, Alex Beigel of Cockeysville. "He had many funny songs, jokes and sayings."
Dr. Edelstein, who was an animal lover, also enjoyed traveling and following the stock market. He was also a weather buff.
"He enjoyed reading the Farmers' Almanac and listening to his weather-band radios," said his wife of two years, the former Elaine Dolores Selway.
A Mass of Christian burial will be offered at 11 a.m. Saturday at Immaculate Conception Roman Catholic Church, Baltimore and Ware avenues, Towson.
In addition to his wife and stepson, Dr. Edelstein is survived by another stepson, Christopher Beigel of Hydes; a stepdaughter, Rise Hunter of Monteverde, Costa Rica; and many nieces and nephews. Two earlier marriages ended in divorce.