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Dr. H. Stanley Levy, retired dentist, dies

Dr. H. Stanley Levy was a student of Middle Eastern culture and politics.
Dr. H. Stanley Levy was a student of Middle Eastern culture and politics. (Baltimore sun)

Dr. H. Stanley Levy, a retired dentist and enthusiastic fly fisherman, died of dementia complications April 5 at the Springwell Senior Living Community. The Mount Washington resident was 98.

Born in Baltimore and raised near Franklin Square, he was the son of David Levy, a immigrant from Scotland, and his wife, Anna, an immigrant from Ukraine, who operated a women’s clothing store. He graduated from City College at age 16 and took an additional year at Southern High School, where he played baseball and basketball.

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He applied to medical school but was turned down because of a quota system that limited the number of Jewish admissions. While the University of Maryland told him the medical quota was full, officials said the dental school, which also had a quota, was open to him. He entered an academically accelerated World War II program at the University of Maryland Dental School. He graduated with dental degree when he was 22 and entered the Army Air Corps. He was assigned to North Africa and served throughout the Middle East and India. He spent much of his time in Arab emirates and in Tehran, Iran.

“At age 24 he was running 25 health clinics,” said his son, Michael Levy of Washington, D.C. “It was quite an experience for a young man who had grown up near the Hollins Market. Along the way when he was overseas, he met sheiks and sheikhs while in Kuwait and Bahrain. He became something of an expert on Middle East geopolitics and never lost that interest.”

During the war he experienced emergency situations. He once operated on a man whose head was injured in air crash. Dr. Levy did the brain surgery while another G.I. read from a text book.

He married Ruth Surosky in 1943. They initially met at a summer camp — but did not really date — and later had a whirlwind courtship. While Dr. Levy was stationed overseas, he sent his military wages to Baltimore and had his wife purchase 2422 Eutaw Place. The rowhouse became the family home and his dental office.

“My father established a socially diverse practice and took all comers,” said his son. “He was beloved by his patients. He was also an assistant dentist for the Baltimore Colts and in the days of primitive teeth guards, he was on the field fairly often.”

It became family lore when Colts defensive tackle Gene “Big Daddy” Lipscomb rang the family doorbell at 11:30 p.m. to be treated for a toothache.

Dr. Levy later practiced in the 6400 block of Park Heights Ave. He saw patients in the morning and afternoon and by habit returned home for lunch.

“Doc Levy was a consummate teacher, educating his kids, his dental mentees, his patients and anyone who was willing to listen to him discuss geopolitics, the Middle East or fly fishing,” said Rabbi Daniel Cotzin Burg of Beth Am Congregation in his eulogy. “He was a man of contradictions: gruff yet loving, macho yet affectionate.”

Dr. Levy was a Zionist and supporter of Jewish causes. He and his wife collected guns from American G.I.s that were smuggled into what became the State of Israel.

“My father had a sophisticated understanding of the Middle East,” his son said. “He was attuned to the ethnic and religious conflicts. He was terrified if we went into Iraq it would open Pandora’s Box. He had a great deal of sensitivity to the condition of the Palestinians and always supported a two-state solution.”

Dr. Levy took Fridays off and went fishing. He was a self-taught fly tier. On several occasions he accompanied The Sun’s outdoor columnist, Lefty Kreh, on fishing trips to the Juniata River in Pennsylvania, the mill ponds on the Eastern Shore and to the Shenandoah River at Woodstock, Va. When he took his sons along on these trips, he offered lessons in life.

“My father believed in code. There was a right way and wrong way to live your life,” his son said. “He believed you needed to work hard, to think through problems and filter out the emotions. In most cases, you didn’t know more than anybody else — and you weren’t better than anybody else.”

Dr. Levy had a reverence for teachers and coaches.

“To him, the teacher was always right. If his sons were falling short, it was not the teachers’ fault. It was out fault,” his son said.

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He was a debater about sports — and politics — and believed that each contest offered lessons in life. “He could argue as forcefully whether Brooks Robinson should have swung at the fourth pitch or the policy of President Lyndon Johnson,” his son said. He was also a supporter of civil rights and abhorred the racial segregation he witnessed in World War II within the military.

Dr. Levy was a member of Chizuk Amuno and later Beth Am Congregation.

Survivors include sons, Stevan Levy of Baltimore, Michael Levy of Washington, D.C., and Edward Levy of Baltimore; a daughter, Laura L. Crandall of Charlotte, Vt.; nine grandchildren; and 13 great grandchildren. His wife of 69 years, Ruth Surosky, died in 2012.

Services were held April 7 at Sol Levinson and Brothers.

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