Oct. 10, 1918 - Feb. 23, 2013
ELKHART — Dr. Philip S. Zeitler, 94, died Sunday, Feb 23, 2013.
He is survived by his daughters, Madelyn, Manette, Marjorie and Melanie; and his grandchildren, Katie, Chelsie, Andrew, Eleana, Calla, Livya, Wynter, Ross, Billy and Barbara.
He was preceded in death by his daughter, Michele; and his wife, Beverly, who passed away Dec. 30, 2012.
Dr. Zeitler was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., on Oct. 10, 1918, to immigrant parents, Samuel and Mathilda Zeitler. He attended undergraduate school at Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, Pa., graduate school at Boston College and medical school at the University of Geneva in Switzerland, where he became fluent in the French language.
He attained the rank of captain while serving in the U.S. Army Medical Corps during the Korean War. During that time, he was also stationed at the U.S. Army Hospital in Japan. where he served as a chief orthopedic surgeon.
Following his military service, he returned to New York City, where he worked on staff of the Jewish Hospital in Brooklyn and taught medicine at Columbia University. Later, he and the family moved to Zanesville, Ohio, where he had a medical practice and taught at The Ohio State University.
He relocated to South Bend, where he joined a local orthopedic practice. Those duties eventually took him to Elkhart, where he became the first orthopedic surgeon in the city. After retirement, he volunteered at the Veterans Hospital in Fort Wayne for two years.
In the truest sense, he was a refined, “old-world” gentleman of European culture and influence. Dr. Zeitler was an accomplished artist. He traveled to France and Italy to study sculpting with master artists. He loved music, especially the opera. Dr. Zeitler was a lifelong athlete, excelling in his youth at tennis, squash, boxing, fencing and, as an equestrian, jumping horses. Later, playing golf became a favorite pastime. He was a loving and devoted husband, father and family man; and always fiercely protective of his five daughters.
Next to his family, his lifelong love and passion remained the practice of medicine. Throughout the community, the name “Dr. Zeitler” was to medicine what “Sterling” is to silver. He was a skilled surgeon of impeccable standards; never countenancing incompetence and never driven by recognition or by whether a patient could afford his services. He was known to take token payment for his services in the form of bushels of corn or the like. Dr. Zeitler was devoted to his craft and to the well-being of the thousands of patients he treated in his 50 years of practice.
Perhaps the true measure of one’s life is in how he is remembered by those left behind. It can be said of Dr. Philip Samuel Zeitler: his legacy will long endure as “a man among men;” a true icon in his profession; one who made a real difference by carving his own indelible mark on this world, leaving it better than before; one whose devotion to his profession, his many patients, his family and his friends will continue to evoke strong thoughts of love, admiration, gratitude and respect in the memories of those innumerable lives he touched around the world for many years to come.
A service will be from 3 to 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2013, at Jewish Federation of St. Joseph Valley, 3202 Shalom Way, South Bend.
The family asks that flowers not be sent and instead donations be made to Temple Israel, P.O. Box 2051, Valparaiso, IN 46384 or Jewish Federation of St. Joseph Valley, 3202 Shalom Way, South Bend, IN 46615.