MERVYN HURWITZ (1937-2020) Obstetrician and Gynaecologist
It’s hard to believe that 60 years have passed. I am fortunate to have remained friends with several classmates across the globe. Among them are those who spent 12 years with me at King Edward School.
I was born in Johannesburg in 1937 to Esther and Herman Hurwitz, immigrants from Lithuania. After medical school, I completed my specialty training at the Johannesburg General Hospital and the Queen Victoria Maternity Hospital in Obstetrics and Gynaecology. I then went to London where I earned my Fellowship of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and worked under Sir John Stallworthy in Oxford, England.
On returning to South Africa, I joined the OBGYN practice of Joel Cohen and Max Bloom and later served on the faculty of the University of Witwatersrand Medical School. I was one of the pioneers of sex therapy in South Africa, establishing the country’s first sex therapy clinic. I remained in private practice for almost 30 years until I immigrated to the US in 1997 in order to be closer to our children.
I went from private practice in Johannesburg to rural Arkansas, quite a culture shock. We met wonderful people and were warmly welcomed into the community. We stayed in Arkansas for 10 years and made lifelong friends.
In Arkansas, I was in charge of the OBGYN unit at Chicot Memorial Hospital and also ran the OBGYN facilities in five community clinics. I started a telemedicine service that grew in outreach to 50 different clinics throughout Arkansas. I also initiated an emergency helicopter transportation service to take high-risk patients and babies from rural communities to specialized care at the University of Arkansas Hospital in Little Rock where I was a faculty consultant.
On retiring, for my contribution to community medicine, the Governor of Arkansas presented me with the Arkansas Traveler Award, an honorary title bestowed on notable individuals who, through their service, have contributed to the wellbeing of the people of Arkansas. The state flag was flown in my honor from the Capitol Building in Little Rock, the seat of government. I still have the flag. After 10 years in Arkansas, I retired to Delray Beach, Florida to be near my son and his family.
On the family front, I married Rahle at the end of 5th year of medical school and we have been happily married for over 60 years. Rahle worked as a social worker in private practice and was the supervisor at Jewish Family Council in Johannesburg.
We are fortunate to have all three of our children living in America. Ilana, our eldest, married Richard Starfield, a South African and they live in Boston. They have two daughters, Gabrielle and Gina.
Our son Lyle, a gastroenterologist, married his King David School classmate, Mandy Cohen, and they live close to us in Boca Raton, Florida. Lyle and Mandy have three children, Jonathan, Lori, and Romy.
Our youngest Yael is married to Steven Lange, another King David School graduate. They also live in Boston and have two children, Joshua and Rachel.
Dec 2019, Riviera Maya, Mexico—our 60th wedding anniversary family celebration
Since retirement, I have enjoyed playing golf, tennis and even American stickball. I serve on numerous managerial and social committees in our community. Rahle and I have travelled extensively, visiting exotic places and experiencing different cultures. Most importantly, living in America has allowed us to be a part of our children and grandchildren’s lives. We see a great deal of the local and Boston-based family and have been on several extended family (15 of us) vacations in the US and abroad.
Despite having left South Africa over 23 years ago, we feel deeply connected to both South Africa and America and we have loved living in both countries. We hope you will look us up if you are ever in the South Florida area.
Biography contributed by Mervyn Hurwitz, MB BCh (Rand) FRCOG (Lon)
Delray Beach, Florida, August 2020