The good doctor

The good doctor

Remembering Dr. Arnold Gold of Englewood, advocate of science and humanism in medicine

Dr. Arnold P. Gold with a patient, Christopher Savage, in the 1990s at the Babies Hospital at the NewYork Presbyterian-Columbia University campus (now Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital). (René Perez)
Dr. Arnold P. Gold with a patient, Christopher Savage, in the 1990s at the Babies Hospital at the NewYork Presbyterian-Columbia University campus (now Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital). (René Perez)

If Superman were to live in the community, you — as in we, the rest of us — wouldn’t always recognize him.

He could live as Dr. Clark Kent most of the time. If his super gifts were not running faster than a bullet or being stronger than a locomotive, but instead being able to combine high-level analytic skills and the clear-eyed practice of high-level medicine with the emotional intelligence not generally attributed to data-driven doctors — which are less flashy but really far more useful gifts — he could hide them fairly easily when he’s out in the community. But when people — family, students, patients, patients’ families — would talk about him, there would be a giveaway. They’d often use the word “love.” It’s not a word often associated with doctors, at least when they’re at work.

His phone booth would be his medical office, where he could tear off his suit to show his white jacket, the one with the heart embroidered on its sleeve.

(Or the white jacket he kept at home, the one with the actual Superman patch on the breast pocket. Because he also had a sense of humor.)

Superman — Superdoc! — died on January 23. He lived in Englewood, he was 92 years old, his name was Arnold Gold, his life was extraordinary, and his legacy will be ongoing.

Arnold Gold was born in 1925, on his uncle’s dining room table, his wife, Dr. Sandra Gold, said. His parents, Rebecca and Michael, were deeply in love, according to family legend; “They’d hold hands until dawn in Prospect Park,” in Brooklyn, she said.

Michael and Rebecca Gold

Michael Gold was born in Dublin; from there he moved first to England, and then to New York. “According to my husband, he was the kindest, sweetest man,” his daughter-in-law said. “He was a lawyer, and he and his wife often would argue because often, instead of being paid for a case, when the client couldn’t afford it, he’d take a chicken instead. Or he’d give the money away, to someone who needed it more.” Rebecca did not approve of such softness, Sandra said.

“There are two things we know about Michael,” Sandra said. “He had a lilt and a brogue when he spoke, and people said about him, ‘All that glitters in New York is Michael Gold.’”

He was named a special prosecutor in a case that Sandra doesn’t know much about but does know that it was scandalous; again, according to family legend, “his father would point to a bullet hole in his office window — he practiced across from City Hall — because it was where someone had shot at him and tried to kill him.” Somewhere, some city tabloid has a photograph of Michael Gold pointing to the hole, she said.

He also represented one of New York State’s Indian nations. “There were pictures of Indians coming to his funeral in big long chief headdresses,” Sandra said. “There was a big argument in the family because the chiefs sent huge floral centerpieces to the funeral, and his mother objected to them because there aren’t supposed to be flowers at Jewish funerals, but Rebecca did not want the native people to lose face, so she insisted that they be there.”

Yes, there was a funeral, and it was early. Michael Gold died unexpectedly when his son Arnold was not quite 13, not long before his bar mitzvah.

His widow, Rebecca, had come through hard times before, though, and she was made of tough stuff. She had been orphaned at 13 and lived in Manhattan with her brother, a doctor — the one with the dining room table — but she was treated less like a sister than a poor relation. “She was made to work during the day and go to night school,” Sandra Gold said. “She owned only two dresses, one for shul and one for every other day.”

Rebecca’s first job was at a glove factory. The family story is that when the factory said it was hiring, she positioned herself at the end of the line of job seekers. When it was her turn, she asked if they still had any vacant positions. When the answer was yes, she proposed, “I will work for you for two weeks for free. If you don’t like my work, you can just say goodbye to me.” So she got the job, worked for free for two weeks, and then stayed on.

And she moved up.

Rebecca Gold wanted to be a lawyer. After she was married, she went to college, and then she went to law school. “She wanted to go to St. John, so she would sit in front of the dean’s office every day, and would ask why they wouldn’t admit her. The dean would say to her, ‘You know why we won’t admit you.’ But she would say ‘You know I have the qualifications.’” And then one day, the school changed its policy, and she was in, a member of its first coed class. “She could practice as an attorney before she could vote,” Sandra said. What kind of law did she practice? “Anything she could get paid for.”

She also always wanted to play the piano, but she couldn’t afford one. “So she practiced on the kitchen table,” Sandra said, playing an imaginary instrument, learning how and where to place her fingers. “Once a week, a sheet music store let her practice on their piano,” she continued. To celebrate her 80th birthday, Rebecca Gold played a piano recital.

The Golds lived in Brooklyn. “When his father died, it was the Depression, and the family had $12 to their name,” Sandra said. Arnold still was able to have his bar mitzvah, “and there were cold cuts for the luncheon,” although the time-honored dictum “family hold back” meant that there wasn’t much left for the bar mitzvah boy.

The Golds’ Jewish background was mixed. Michael’s parents “were very observant,” Sandra said; Rebecca’s background was Reform, and her parents were introduced by Stephen Wise, the prominent Reform rabbi, and they were members of the Upper West Side synagogue that carried his name. Rebecca was one of the founders of the National Conference of Christians and Jews.

When her husband died, so young and so unexpectedly, Rebecca had some decisions to make. “My mother-in-law was a strategist,” Sandra said. Arnold was her younger son; the older one, Bernard, who was much older, already was a lawyer, like his parents, and became a partner at the storied New York firm Proskauer Rose. (Bernard also was very much the favorite son, in Sandra’s telling; she retells a family story about a dinner during which Arnold was honored. Rebecca was there; when she was congratulated on her son, she played out an old dishonored Jewish joke but did it seriously. “You think this one is something?” she is said to have asked rhetorically. “You should see the other one…”)

“Arnold always wanted to be a doctor,” Sandra said. “My mother-in-law figured out that all the Jewish boys who went to medical school or law school went to CCNY, but there were quotas, and the competition was fierce. So she asked her brother, who lived in Texas, to take him in.” Arnold’s uncle lived in Galveston; Rebecca knew that the competition for the few Jewish slots in the Texas medical schools was likely to be less intense than at home in New York.

So it was done. “Her brother arranged for his nephew to live with his ex-wife and two sons there,” Sandra said. “So at 13 he was sent by train to St. Louis, to stay overnight in the big terminal there, and then to make his way to the next train going to Galveston. He was sent with a big bag of food, to last the three days that the trip would take.

“And his mother said, ‘Don’t call me. We don’t have enough money for phone calls. If you want to talk to me, just write.’”

That’s what the 13-year-old aspiring medical student did. He lived with his uncle’s ex. “His uncle told her that she had to do it if she wanted to get alimony, and he was given different food than his cousins,” Sandra said. “But Arnold never wanted to talk about that.”

Arnold Gold as a young man

Arnold Gold finished high school in Galveston. “He had a good time,” Sandra said. “He was a good student. His goal was to get into the University of Texas at Austin, and then into medical school.” It worked. At 15, he became a college freshman. “He had three jobs there,” Sandra said. “He tutored football players, he served food in the women’s dining room, which meant that he could eat there, and on the weekends he worked in a shoe store.”

When he was 17, in 1942, Arnold enlisted in the Navy. He trained in Boston and Cape Cod, and then he was shipped to San Diego, where he worked as a medical corpsman. He was about to be shipped to Japan when the war ended.

Back in Austin, Arnold applied to medical school, but there was a problem. He had listed his mother as his legal guardian, back when he was a minor, but she was a resident of New York State, and that made him ineligible for a state-owned medical school in Texas. (The irony, of course, was crushing; he had gone to Texas so that eventually he could get into medical school there, as a resident.) He appealed that decision up to the state’s Supreme Court, and he lost; while he waited, he earned a master’s degree in biology at the University of Florida in Gainesville. He applied to medical schools across the country but didn’t get in.

He did get into the University of Lausanne, in Switzerland. The only problem was that he didn’t speak French. Problem? No problem! He had studied German in college; his professor, supplying the necessary letter attesting to both his general suitability for medical school and his language skills, “said that he could study in French, and that he could guarantee that Arnold Gold would be an outstanding student at the University of Lausanne,” Sandra said. “The professor was a kind man. He did not lie. He just avoided the fact that Arnold did not know one word of French.

“So three months before he was going to start school — he went, by the way, on the GI Bill — he took a Polish ship across the ocean to Cannes. His brother gave him a winter coat, and he brought boxes of chocolate and coffee.” The chocolate and coffee were tradable currency in postwar Europe. “He bartered them, and he would sit in cafes and just talk to people. He was interested in everyone. And so, in the three months before he was going to start to study medicine in French, he learned French.” His teachers, randomly met in cafes and then networking out from there, included “a wonderful woman who had fought in the French resistance,” Sandra said.

From that experience, as well as from the rest of his life until then, she added, her husband learned a great deal not only about talking to everyone, but about listening to them and respecting them. It was from those experiences that later he knew how to evaluate students and residents based on the feedback he got from everyone around them, including their peers and the people who worked for them, as well as their superiors and their test scores. “He was very open about it,” Sandra said. “In front of your peers, you are who you really are. You are naked. People know who will stop to help someone else, and who is only out for themselves.”

Arnold Gold actually had a Superman white coat.

It was a lesson that he also could trace back to his father, she added. “He learned about sometimes accepting no money for your services, because there was someone who needed the money more than you did.”

He also studied hard, and saw no reason to disguise that. He was competitive and analytic as well as being compassionate and open-hearted; he learned how to integrate those often warring impulses as he also learned his craft.

Arnold Gold spent five years in Lausanne. When he left, he went to “Charity Hospital in New Orleans, arriving in the middle of the summer, in the middle of a polio epidemic,” Sandra said. “He found about 20 children in iron lungs.” He worked for Dr. Margaret Smith, who became his first mentor. “He noticed that she never left the unit.” There was a good — as in very bad — reason for that. Not only was there of course no air conditioning, “the electric system was not powerful, and if the electricity went off, the iron lungs had to be hand-cranked.” If they were not, the children imprisoned in them might well have died.

He even looked a bit like Clark Kent.

It was then that Arnold decided that he wanted to be a pediatrician.

He became the chief resident, “and during that time he helped with the visiting nurse service,” Sandra said. “He always said that’s where he learned the meaning of the saying ‘up the creek.’” He made rounds in the countryside; there was a route that brought doctors or nurses to remote backcountry homes. Sometimes, he’d ride that circuit on horseback, because there were no roads. And sometimes “there were creeks that were too high to cross by horseback, so there would be a rowboat tied up that he’d use to cross. He’d tie his horse up on one side of the creek, and there would be another horse tied up on the other side, ready for him.” Note that this was in the 1950s, in the United States of America.

Arnold was not entirely a novice horseback rider, Sandra added; his first experiences had been in Prospect Park, back in Brooklyn, under different circumstances, in different terrain.

After Charity Hospital, Arnold went to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, where he worked briefly for Albert Sabin, the creator of the polio vaccine that freed later generations from the specter of the iron lung that Arnold had seen in New Orleans. But he worked much more closely with and was much more influenced by Dr. Ashley Weech, the second of his great mentors. Arnold was chief resident in Cincinnati, as he had been at Charity, and along with that position came a weekly invitation to sherry with Dr. Weech. “As chief resident, you would talk about the service and the people in it,” Sandra said. Not only about awards and achievements, and not only about doctors, but about housekeepers and bookkeepers and everyone else; he would tell about babies and school graduations. “Dr. Weech would write a note to, say, Mary Anne in housekeeping to congratulate her on the baby,” Sandra said. “The model of the great doctor and professor as being caring, involved, and part of the community came from him. Ashley Weech really modeled that kind of humanism.”

But not instead of scientific rigor, she added. “You need both. Excellence and compassion. The danger is going all in one direction or the other.”

After Cincinnati, Arnold went to Babies Hospital at Columbia; after a little bit of back-and-forthing between there and Cincinnati, he stayed at Columbia for the rest of his career. He began to work for Dr. Sidney Carter, who is considered to be the founder of pediatric neurology, and who was the third of Arnold’s great mentors. After he finished his fellowship, Dr. Carter made Arnold Gold a partner in his practice.

Arnold Gold held the sixth license in pediatric neurology, Sandra Gold said. “He came in at the ground floor of the new discipline.” He wrote the chapter on neurology in the textbook that most medical students used as they learned pediatrics, she said, and he wrote the chapter on pediatrics in the textbook on neurology.

Sandra Orenberg met Arnold in 1964; they each were married to someone else, she had three very young children, and one of them needed a neurologist. About three years later, when they both were divorced, they remet. Sandra is a pure product of New Jersey. She was born in New Brunswick, grew up in Irvington and Highland Park, and went to college at Douglass. She earned a doctorate in counseling; when they met again, it was at a professional conference. They married in 1968 — this year they would have celebrated their 50th anniversary. And it still was pure New Jersey — the wedding was at Temple Emeth in Teaneck, and the rabbi was Louis Sigel.

Drs. Sandra and Arnold Gold were married for more than 49 years.

“Arnold told me, when we first got serious, that he was never going to get married again,” Sandra said. “That he was married to medicine. But I persevered.” They found themselves in a marriage of partners, of equals, of two people whose strong personalities entwined so fully that people who knew them thought of them as a unit. Strikingly, Arnold’s patients knew and loved Sandra as well as Arnold. For both of them, the separation between their personal and professional lives was purposefully porous.

The young family — Sandra, Arnold, and their five children, Jeffrey, Stephen, Jennifer, Amelia, and Maggie — moved to a big old house in Englewood. The house, called Breezy Corners, was built in 1895; it’s full of detail and nooks and rooms and air and space and very clearly of life and love. “This is a very happy house,” Sandra said.

They came from different religious backgrounds — his was mainly Reform, hers was Orthodox — but they instilled a love for Jewish life in their family at their Shabbat table, a big, expansive one. “My children grew up listening to adult conversation about adult issues there, and they wanted to be there,” she said.

Now, their grandchildren come. There are 13 of them; four of the five families live locally, and as many children and grandchildren as possible show up every week.

“Arnold would always bless the children, and then I would start a discussion about some commentary — I would usually get three or four of them — and they’d find something to think about it in them,” Sandra said. “Arnold would preside over it, and it was very important to him to hear what they each had to say. He loved to watch as they began to express opinions in opposition to each other, and stand firm as they defended their positions. It was important to their growth.

“Sometime I would bring up problems in the community, without naming the organization or the figure, and ask what is more important to consider, the individual or the community?” There was both a lot of learning and a lot of love around that table, and it will continue, Sandra said.

Dr. Arnold Gold

The Golds chose Englewood because it’s right across the Hudson from the hospital, and Arnold could get there quickly. “The children respected that Arnold was a doctor taking care of sick children, and they never asked me when we would have dinner,” she said. “They wanted to wait for him. Some families might have objected to him being gone a lot — and I was so busy that I also was gone a lot — but from a young age they understood what their father was about.

“If a resident or a fellow called him in in the middle of the night with a question, the rule was that he’d always go in. He said that they are not going to call in the middle of the night for something simple. And when he went in the middle of the night, I almost always went with him — I was lucky, I had childcare, so I could do that. And I didn’t want him to go in alone.”

Her children understood, Sandra said. “They were never angry about it,” she said, a bit wonderingly. “I believe that to be true. They were never angry about it.”

Arnold always was generous with his time, she continued. “And he would fight for children.”

She told a story — one of many stories, too many stories to retell, but so many wonderful stories — of “once when he was called for a consultation at a local hospital for a child who had been diagnosed as having a neuroblastoma, a tumor, right near the eye. You had to be very skilled to operate on that or the child would be blind.

“He confirmed the diagnosis, and then he asked the doctor — who was a surgeon — who would operate on the child. ‘I will,’ the doctor said. My husband asked how many of these he had done, and the doctor said, ‘I have never done one but I have scrubbed in for one.’ Arnold said ‘You can’t do that,’ and the doctor said yes he could. Arnold said ‘No, and if you try I am going to report you.’ It was a big clash, and the other doctor backed down.

“Arnold could just have let it go, but he wouldn’t. He would always fight for a child. He would always do the right thing.”

Arnold and Sandra Gold beam, surrounded by family.

As Arnold continued to practice medicine, Sandra, who taught English and at one point chaired the English department at East Brunswick High School, became increasingly involved in the local Jewish community in Bergen County. She started her volunteer career programming for what was then the JCC in Englewood, and then began raising funds for it, as well as for Israel Bonds and what was then the UJA of Englewood and Surrounding Communities; eventually she became president of what was then the JCC on the Palisades (and now is the Kaplen JCC on the Palisades).

“We had a wonderful circle of friends,” she said. There was a group of five couples; all of the men had been born in 1925. “They accomplished so much,” she said; that group was key in establishing much of the philanthropic underpinnings of Bergen County Jewish life that still underpins it to this day.

That meant that when the next fund-raising challenge arose, Sandra was ready for it.

“In 1988, Arnold began suffering from stories that people were telling him at dinner parties,” Sandra said. They would tell horror stories about the callous, unfeeling ways they’d been treated by doctors. “They made him feel responsible, as a doctor and as someone who taught doctors,” she said. He was a professor of clinical neurology and clinical pediatrics. “He felt responsible, and he was made to feel responsible,” she said. “They said, ‘Arnold, you are training those doctors.’

“And they were right.

“And he would come home at night and talk about it.

“There was a pivotal moment one day, when he was making rounds, and the resident who was presenting a patient introduced him as the brain tumor in room 280.

“It broke Arnold’s heart.

“He said, ‘Tell me about the patient. What do you know about him?’ They knew only the test scores. He was Arnold’s patient, and his younger brother had been a patient also. He’d had neurofibramatotis, which is very serious. Arnold knew this family very well. The patient was 16, and he had a malignant tumor that at that time was a death sentence. The patient’s name was Glen.

“Arnold drilled down with them, and they didn’t know anything about the family, or how they were feeling, or what services they needed.

“Arnold came home that night, and I said to him, ‘Arnold, I am tired of hearing you talk about this. Do something or shut up about it.’

“That wasn’t the way we talked to each other, but it’s what I said.

“And the next day he came home and he said that he was starting a foundation, and he had a board and a group of doctors and he’d called the dean up and they’d had a handshake on the deal. And every dean after that has done it too. And he did that all in one day.”

That was the start of the Arnold P. Gold Foundation, which is devoted to humanism in medicine, not instead of science but alongside it.

Since then, the foundation has established the White Coat ceremony, where first-year medical students get both their totemic white coats and an understanding of the immensity of the role they are about to assume, as healers of spirit as well as body. The ceremony, which uses ritual as a way to reinforce emotionally the understanding that the students already have intellectually, first was held in 1993; by now, 96 percent of accredited medical schools in this country use it.

The foundation also oversees the Gold Humanism Honor Society, many awards programs, and a research institute. Its goal is to use ritual, recognition, role modeling, and research to integrate humanism into the practice of medicine, and to understand humanism as the vital and necessary force it is.

Sandra and Arnold Gold are surrounded by doctors and medical students at a White Coat ceremony at Keio University, Japan, in 2006.

At one White Coat ceremony, not too long ago, Arnold gave a speech. He carried his worn leather bag, and he put it on a table in front of him. “He said to the class, ‘This is the bag that I carried with me for 57 years,’” Sandra reported. “He took out the things inside it — a stethoscope, puppets, toys — and he said, as he always said to his students, ‘If a child cries during an examination, then it is a failure.’ That day, he said to his residents, ‘It is your job to see that child doesn’t cry.’

Sandra and Arnold Gold give a student his coat at the ceremony.

“He always gave out lollipops. A mother would say, ‘Why are you giving the kids sugar?’ and he’d say ‘It’s my job to find out what this child can do, and he will show me what he can do only if he wants to.’” And a child will only want to do that if she is happy, and relaxed, and trusting.

“‘I didn’t have any cures in this black bag for most of the years that I carried it,’” Sandra continued to quote Arnold. “‘But I had something else. I had time. I had time to get a history, time to find out how the child would react, time to find out how the child was behaving, time to talk about the child with my colleagues.’”

It is a marvel that science has progressed to the point where there are cures for many of the illnesses that Arnold Gold saw; it would be a great step backward if the human understanding and connection that he valued were to be lost in that progress, Sandra Gold said.

Dr. Arnold Gold influenced many students — who are now doctors — and patients during his life. They remember him with a combination of veneration and — a word that they use often — love.

Dr. Maureen Strafford is a pediatrician and anesthesiologist in Boston; she also is, among other things, an assistant professor of pediatrics, anesthesiology, public health, and community medicine at the medical school at Tufts University there.

Dr. Arnold Gold was her supervisor at Columbia, where she trained. “He also was my mentor and a beloved friend,” she said. “He was an amazing man.

“He taught me that there was no reason to examine a child and have the child cry. He was masterful in playing with children.” He’d notice details as he played, and then “he said that if the mother isn’t satisfied at the end of your examination, you haven’t done the job right.”

This story is about her, but she attributes it entirely to what she learned from him. “One night, an intern — a good intern — asked me to look at a baby in the emergency room,” she said. “He said, ‘I thought the baby was fine, good to go, but the mother didn’t.’ The mother didn’t speak English very well. The baby was lying still, and the mother kept saying ‘This isn’t my baby. This is not my baby.’

“So we didn’t send the baby home, and it turned out that the baby had meningitis. I learned to listen to the mother from Arnold. He said to pay attention to the mother. That baby lived. If we had sent him home, he might not have.

“We don’t use the word love in medical charts, but Arnold loved his patients, and his patients loved him, and I don’t think that there is any greater gift for a parent than to know that. He loved his patients.”

She told the story of another White Coat ceremony, at Tufts, where she was the main speaker. She told Arnold about that honor, and he decided to come to the ceremony himself. The dean asked him to introduce her.

“He said, ‘It is always an honor when one of my students gives a White Coat ceremony speech,” Dr. Strafford said. “But we have to ask where this compassion comes from. It probably came from her parents, so let’s ask them to stand up.’”

Her parents, Irene and William Strafford, “were loving, wonderful people, extraordinary in so many ways, but they weren’t big shots,” she said. They were not the sort of people who often are acknowledged in ceremonies. But Arnold understood, and he honored them. “It was so moving,” Dr. Strafford said. “So moving! I never forgot it.

“And that was Arnold. And they don’t teach you to do those kinds of things in textbooks.

Dr. Strafford told one more story. She had a friend who was at Columbia; a routine amniocentesis had caused her to miscarry. Her friend was distraught. She called her doctor, but the page went to the wrong physician. Arnold Gold took the call. He didn’t know Dr. Strafford’s friend, and he was not an OB/GYN. That did not stop him.

“Any other doctor would have said ‘I’m sorry, you got the wrong doctor,’” she said. “Arnold spent 20 minutes comforting my friend. He knew she was sad, depressed, upset, and he took the time to comfort her. He said all the right things at a very difficult time. That was who he was. I don’t think he could have hung up the phone without comforting her.”

“He taught his students to be fluent in the language of compassion,” she said. “That was his gift. It is a gift that not many people have.

“He always said ‘I love you.’ He just always said it. And it wasn’t like he was just saying it. You knew he meant it. When you were an intern, he had a magical ability to make you feel like you were smart, that you were making the diagnoses, not him. He made you feel like you were going to be able to do this work.

“I can’t tell you how important it is for young doctors to feel supported, and he supported us. He treated all of us like we were his beloved children.

“He was like Einstein when it came to emotional intelligence.

“I don’t think that anyone else in the world could have pulled off the White Coat ceremony,” she added. It could have been deeply moving — as in fact it is, according to participants and observers — or it could have been hokey, an eye-rolling embarrassment. It could have gone either way.

It went the right way. It has come to symbolize medicine’s hope and heart.

“People bought into it because they loved him,” Dr. Strafford said. “He would say that we have all of this technology, but if you lose compassion, you lose the heart of medicine.

Michael Craig’s daughter, Shanyn, who died three months ago, was a patient of Dr. Gold’s from 2003, when she was young, until he retired — and then he kept an eye on her for the rest of his life.

“He started as my daughter’s doctor, and then we became friends,” Mr. Craig said. “Real friends. Cellphone number friends.”

When he first met Arnold, Michael was surprised. “Our daughter was severely disabled,” he said. “He acknowledged her, said hello to her, and then spent the rest of the time talking to me, my wife, and my mother.

“He wanted to know what religion we were, if we were happily married, if we had support at home, if we had insurance.

“I realized later that what he was doing is that he needed to make sure that the patient was going to be taken care of, and the only way that he could do that was to know the family dynamic. Once he knew that, he was more than happy to treat my daughter.

“He loved the fact that I was motivated, that I came in well prepared. He was motivated as a physician by seeing her being taken care of.

Arnold Gold deeply influenced his family life, Michael said. His other daughter, Meghan, works for the foundation, and he has joined the ethics committee and a family advisory committee at Columbia.

“Arnold’s kindness, his gentleness, his ability to kiss my daughter when we came into the room, showed his empathy,” he said. “From a parents’ experience, that empathy is the first thing you want.”

Patrick Savage is the father of Christopher, the young man in the photograph on the cover, who is looking at Arnold with such love.

“We met Dr. Gold 32 years ago, and since that time he made what could have been a cataclysmic event with our son, who was born with severe neurological problems, into something that we could deal with,” Mr. Savage said. “He basically saved our family. Instead of having it ruin our family or have a very negative impact on us, we were really able to have a full life both for Christopher and for our other children.”

Arnold met Christopher, the Savages’ oldest child, when he was just three weeks old; he treated the little boy and eventually introduced him to Dr. Ben Carson at Johns Hopkins University, who was able to do a hemispherectomy surgery that “was a major improvement,” Mr. Savage said. (Yes, it was the same Ben Carson who went on to run for the Republican nomination for president and today heads the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development. This was in the 1990s, in Dr. Carson’s earlier life.)

Today, Christopher lives in a group home; Arnold guided the family as they made that decision, once it was time to make it.

“Dr. Gold meant everything to us and I consider him a father in terms of the impact he has had on our lives,” Mr. Savage said. “I’m sure we are just one of the thousands of families he’s had an impact on. And he really didn’t have to do it.”

Arnold Gold told the Savage family that they could have more children, who most likely would not have his problems. And he watched and waited, and made sure that the other two boys were okay; if they had not been, he would have started treatment immediately.

“I named one of my sons Daniel Gold Savage,” Pat said.

“He and Christopher had a bond; he kept him on and saw him and treated him and guided us even after he was retiring, and not taking on any new patients.

“Chris has a life, which he would not have had without Arnold. And we have a life, which we would not have had without Arnold. He always would help us find a solution, and he would do it out of love.”

“And Sandra too; Sandra is Arnold’s guiding light, his life partner, his soul mate. The entire Gold family shared him with us.

“Arnold was full of love,” Pat Savage concluded. “He was brilliant, and he also was full of love.”

Arnold Gold’s survivors include his wife, Sandra, and four of their five children; Jeffrey died in 2010. They also include the couple’s two daughters-in-law, a son-in-law, and 13 grandchildren, who range in age from 7 to 20.

Dr. Sandra Gold asks that contributions in Dr. Arnold Gold’s memory be made to either the Arnold P. Gold Foundation, at 619 Palisades Ave. in Englewood Cliffs, or to the Sandra and Arnold Gold Humanism Research Fund. That newer organization, at 330 Johnson Ave. in Englewood, is, as its name implies, set up solely to fund research into the hard data supporting the importance of humanism, paired with science, in obtaining good medical outcomes.

It is the goal that Dr. Arnold Gold worked toward, with love, throughout his long life.

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