Dr. Hilbert M. "Bert" Levine, a retired Baltimore general surgeon who spent nearly four decades at what is now Mercy Medical Center, died Aug. 7 of multiple organ failure at Gilchrist Hospice Care in Towson. He was 88 and lived in Pikesville.
"He was a beloved and wonderful guy," said Sister Helen Amos, former president and chief executive at Mercy. "He was very identified with Mercy."
The son of Charles Levin, a Rosenthal's department store salesman, and Lenore Levin, a homemaker, Hilbert Merrill Levine was born in Baltimore and raised on Lyndhurst Avenue in Forest Park.
Dr. Levine's father dropped the "e" from his last name, family members said.
When Dr. Levine was 3 years old, he was injured while being treated at a hospital for a severe earache. A doctor tried to resolve the problem with an operation on the mastoid that left him deaf in one ear. The operation also severed several facial nerves, paralyzing the muscles on one side of his face, family members said.
He also suffered a severe injury at Forest Park High School during a shop class, when a saw nearly cut off the fingers of one hand.
Hiis mother urged him to overcome these adversities and pursue whatever he wished to do in life, his family said.
After graduating from Forest Park in 1946, he began studying engineering at the Johns Hopkins University, where he later switched his major to pre-med. He also played lacrosse.
In order to defray college expenses, Dr. Levine drove a taxi and worked at Sparrows Point.
After earning his bachelor's degree in 1950, he enrolled at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, from which he graduated in 1954.
He completed a surgical internship and residency at what was then Mercy Hospital in 1959. From 1958 to 1959, he was chief resident in surgery and chief administrative resident.
Dr. Levine remained at Mercy until retiring in 1993. He also maintained a private surgical practice in a now-demolished 19th-century rowhouse in the 300 block of St. Paul St.
In addition to his busy medical career, Dr. Levine was a clinical associate professor of surgery at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. He was also on the medical staffs of the University of Maryland Medical Center and Harbor Hospital.
"Bert was admired by all of the physicians and … those whose careers he helped shape," said Sister Helen. "He was also fondly remembered for the respectful relationships he had with the nursing staff. He was very kind.
"Operating rooms are a highly pressured environment where there can be lots of tension, but he stood out along with his colleagues who all had a role to play in making sure the surgery went well for the patient," Sister Helen said. "And his personality always came out in a vey natural way."
Sister Anne Corcoran is the former vice president of nursing at Mercy.
"In addition to being a very kind to our staff, he was a very competent surgeon," she said. "He was a very quiet man, and our nurses loved him so much."
"He was a very personable person. I wouldn't say he was the life of the party, but Bert had a very fine sense of humor," Sister Helen said. "He enjoyed people and relating to them. It was just a natural part of his personality."
Dr. Levine was a member of the American Medical Association, Baltimore City Medical Society, Medical and Chirurgical Faculty of Maryland, a charter member of the University of Maryland Surgical Society, and a Life Fellow of the American Society of Abdominal Surgeons.
The former Stevenson resident later moved to Pikesville, and also spent time at a second home ihe maintained in Delray Beach, Fla.
Dr. Levine enjoyed playing golf and was a member of the old Bonnie Ridge Country Club in Mount Washington. He was also a member of the Suburban Club and the Gleneagle Club in Delray Beach.
He was an opera fan and enjoyed solving the daily crossword puzzles in The Baltimore Sun and The New York Times. His grandchildren also liked to hear his impression of Donald Duck, family members said.
Dr. Levine was a longtime member of Oheb Shalom Congregation.
Funeral services were held Aug. 10 at Sol Levinson & Bros. in Pikesville.
Dr. Levine is survived by his wife of 53 years, the former Helene Lippman; three sons, Dr. Ira J. Levine of Helena, Mont., and Charles D. Levine and Richard D. Levine, both of Owings Mills; three daughters, Michelle Brill of Pikesville, Laurie Lubovsky of Glyndon and Barbara Packer of Columbia; nine grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren. An earlier marriage ended in divorce.