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Published: Sunday, 10/19/2003

Doctor had special interest in care of workers, elderly

Dr. Oscar Neufeld, a physician who specialized in pulmonary medicine but who took a special interest in the health care of working and older people, died Thursday in his West Toledo home of heart failure. He was 87.

He had been in poor health since a heart attack in May.

Dr. Neufeld retired in 2001, 50 years after he began to practice medicine in Toledo. He was medical director of the pulmonary function department of the former Mercy Hospital and taught at Medical College of Ohio.

“He was an individual who was highly respected among the medical community in this city,” said Dr. John Howard, emeritus professor of surgery at MCO.

Dr. Neufeld grew up in Germany in a Jewish family. His parents, a sister, and a nephew were killed in the Holocaust. He was interned in a camp and later worked in a coal mine during the war, said his wife, Mary, also a Holocaust survivor.

The couple arrived in the United States in 1948. His medical residency was in Denver hospitals that treated tuberculosis. Afterward, he was offered a job by the former William Roche Memorial Hospital in Toledo, which also treated people with TB.

“People were so nice to us [in Toledo], and he applied to Catholic hospitals, and they embraced him and made it so easy for him,” his wife said.

Dr. Neufeld became an American citizen in 1954.

His patients included working class and poor people, whom he helped financially and to get medicine they couldn't afford. His patients “could call him any time of day or night,” his wife said. “Even if they needed help other than medicine, they could call.”

He wrote articles about health for The Voice of the Building Trades, the newspaper of the Northwest Ohio Building and Construction Trades Council. He also studied and gave talks about the medical and social concerns of older people.

In memory of sons David and Dr. Ronald Neufeld, the couple set up grade-school libraries in Jerusalem and a University of Toledo scholarship for students in need.

Surviving are his wife, Mary, whom he married in May, 1945; daughter, Sheri Neufeld, and four grandchildren.

Services will be at 11 a.m. tomorrow in the Robert H. Wick-Wisniewski Mortuary. The family will receive friends in their West Toledo home after interment at Historic Woodlawn Cemetery.

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