Dr. Alvin A. Stambler, a retired Baltimore pediatrician who cared for generations of infants, children and adolescents during a career that spanned more than six decades, died Sept. 26 at Gilchrist Center in Towson of complications from a fall. The longtime Lutherville resident was 91.
“He was a wonderful pediatrician who loved his patients and continued practicing until very recently. He had great empathy and care,” said Dr. Leon Strauss of Owings Mills, an ophthalmologist and longtime friend.
“When I was in medical school, he was both an exemplar and an inspiration,” said Dr. Strauss. “He was always there for his patients, family and friends.”
“A lot of doctors are completely absorbed by their practice, but Alvin was a whole man. He had a full life,” he said. “We are all going to miss him so much.”
He graduated in 1944 from Baltimore City College, where he had been editor of The Collegian, the school newspaper. During his high school years, he held a part-time job at Sachs Brothers Pharmacy on Reisterstown Road.
After high school he joined the U.S. Merchant Marine and worked as a pharmacist’s mate. He later served in the Army and was discharged in 1947,
He received a bachelor’s degree in 1950 from the University of Maryland, and was a cum laude graduate two years later of the University of Maryland Medical School. He was a member of Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society.
After completing an internship in 1953 at Beth Israel Hospital in New York City and a pediatric residency in 1955 at the old Baltimore City Hospital — now Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center — Dr. Stambler established a solo pediatric practice in 1955 in Pikesville.
He was board certified by the American Academy of Pediatrics in 1957.
Dr. Stambler was affiliated with several Baltimore hospitals. At the Johns Hopkins Hospital, he worked from 1952 to 1975 with his mentor, Dr. Harold E. Harrison, in the renal-metabolic endocrinology clinic. Dr. Harrison, who died in 1989, was an expert in calcium, phosphorous, vitamin D metabolism, rickets and oral rehydration. He had been chief of pediatrics at Johns Hopkins.
In 1970, Dr. Stambler was appointed assistant professor of pediatrics at Johns Hopkins. He was also an attending physician at Sinai Hospital, University of Maryland Medical Center, Greater Baltimore Medical Center and Mercy Medical Center.
He was chief of pediatrics at the old Lutheran Hospital from 1960 to 1970, and held a similar position at the former Church Home and Hospital from 1962 to 1980.
“We were classmates in medical school and have been friends ever since,” said Dr. Bella Faye Schimmel, a Baltimore native who spent her career as a psychiatrist in Los Angeles. She called Dr. Stambler “a very dedicated physician who loved his work, and worked long and hard at it.
“He was dedicated to his patients and to science,” Dr. Schimmel said.
Dr. Stambler was a member of the Baltimore County Medical Society and the Maryland State Medical Society, or MedChi.
He was 90 when he retired last year.
“It would be safe to say that my father took care of thousands of children throughout the course of his career,” said his son, Kirk J. Stambler of Los Angeles. “I would estimate the number at over 3,000.”
“He was a friendly person who liked people, and when he made contact he kept in touch with them,” Dr. Schimmel said. “He reached out to them and made friends very easily.”
A man of varied intellectual pursuits, Dr. Stambler read widely about history, politics, art and culture. He was an avid tennis player and enjoyed exercising.
He was in his 50s when he developed a keen interest in sailing, and became an accomplished sailor. He enjoyed sailing Odyssey, his 30-foot sloop, and shared journeys with friends exploring the Chesapeake Bay and its various tributaries and rivers.