Dr. Samuel I. Benesh, an internist and cardiologist who practiced at Sinai and Northwest hospitals for many years, died in his sleep of an apparent heart ailment Sept. 2 at his Pikesville home. He was 71.
Born in Baltimore and raised in Pikesville, he was the son of Leonard Benesh, who was in the clothing business and his wife, Gertrude. After his parents divorced, he lived with his mother and stepfather, Dr. Raymond Goldberg, a Baltimore obstetrician and gynecologist, who became a role model and early teacher.
'His relationship with his stepfather was a critical part of his life," said M. Arnold “Arnie” Politzer, a close friend and classmate. “He knew what he wanted to be when he was in high school.”
Dr. Benesh was a 1966 graduate of Pikesville High School, where he developed his tennis skills. He earned a bachelor’s degree at Franklin and Marshall University. He was a graduate of the University of Maryland School of Medicine.
He established a medical practice based in Pikesville and worked with Dr. Stanley Steinbach until the latter’s retirement He then joined the Crossroads Medical Group in Owings Mills and later joined MDVIP in Quarry Lake.
“He practiced medicine for more 40 years in the Pikesville area and his practice included people of all faiths and all colors,” said Mr. Politzer, an attorney. “He had a big patient load — thousands of patients — and he was much sought after. He was a kind and sympathetic human being. He had a real medical curiosity. He’d consider your symptoms and if something did not ring true, he had to have an answer. He was very thorough. He thought if anything that could be done, he would do it.
"Sam loved doing grand rounds at Sinai Hospital. He enjoyed teaching young interns. He showed them how to enter a hospital room and engage a patient. The sick felt much better because of that calming manner he brought with him. Sam got as much joy from practice of medicine at the end of his life as he did at the beginning. He never retired and I don’t think he had any intention of doing so.”
Colleagues said Dr. Benesh’s patients were his patients for life and that many of their children became his patients when they became adults.
He also mentored Johns Hopkins and University of Maryland students who trained at Sinai Hospital.
Said Dr. Stephen Glasser: “He was empathetic, caring and sensitive. He was loved by his patients and devoted to his family.”
Dr. Tamara Sobel, with whom he had practiced, said: “He was kind, compassionate and just awesome. He was such a fantastic diagnostician. I think of him as being a doctor’s doctor. I would take him any problem and he would come up with a solution.
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“Sam was a single dad for eight years and he understood what it was to be a parents with young children. He achieved a good work-life balance.”
Steven Rosen, an attorney based in Quarry Lake, said: "He was an extraordinary diagnostician. He could hear a patient mention a symptom and recall something he’d read in a medical journal and come up with a diagnosis. He would be spot on. In his business dealings, he was always motivated for what was best for his patients and not for his own pocketbook. He treated everyone with respect and dignity regardless of background or social standing.
“He was self deprecating in a funny way. I could tease him about being a geek. He loved gadgets and was fascinated by the weather. I never met him when he was not laughing about something. He was upbeat.”
Dr. Benesh played tennis for many years and later moved on to playing golf. He enjoyed classical music.
He was married for 33 years to Elaine Antwarg, a registered nurse who worked in his office. Other survivors include two daughters, Carol Taylor of Pikesville and Rachel Middleman of Ashburn, Virginia; a son, Dr. Benjamin Miller of Philadelphia; a stepsister, Nancy Goldberg of Los Angeles; two stepbrothers, Gary Abrams of Denver and Robert Goldberg of Vietnam; and four grandchildren.