Harold “Hal” Wechsler, A53, J91P, died peacefully on February 8 at the age of eighty-five. Wechsler was born July 30, 1931, in New York. Raised in the Bronx, he graduated from Tufts in 1953, and was a dedicated Jumbo and a member of Phi Epsilon Pi.
He went to George Washington University School of Medicine, and then New York University School of Medicine, graduating in 1957. He completed his internship at NYU and residencies at NYU and Hahnemann, the latter of which brought him to Jersey Shore Hospital Medical Center (formerly Fitkin Hospital).
Wechsler had a career as a board-certified general surgeon, the first in Lakewood, New Jersey, and was on staff at Paul Kimball Hospital, CentraState Medical Center (formerly Freehold Hospital), and Jersey Shore. He was a man of habit—working long hours, coming home for family dinner, and then falling asleep while watching the news, newspaper in hand and a glass of Johnnie Walker nearby.
He brought gastric bypass surgery to the area in 1980. Later in his career, Wechsler elected to focus his work on general breast surgery, which afforded him more regular hours and more time with his family. Wechsler was known as a skilled, kind, and patient physician by his fellow doctors, nurses, and patients. He retired begrudgingly at the age of seventy-four. He never forgot how to be a doctor, making sure his own doctors, nurses, and family always knew who was really in charge.
Wechsler never quite learned to cook in his retirement, but the way he prepared his breakfast each day, you would’ve thought he was a master chef. He did learn to do dishes, much to the delight of his family. He was living proof that an old dog can learn at least one new trick.
Wechsler loved to read, especially history, war, and Louis L’Amour books, and his daily Wall Street Journal. He was an avid follower of the stock market. Wechsler loved to ski, taking his family out to the Rockies whenever and as long as he could. Many family memories were created on these trips. Wechsler loved to play tennis, and joined Hollywood Country Club in 1987. While a member, he never did quite become the golf master he had hoped to be.
Wechsler was a man of quiet wisdom, strength, pragmatism, and grace, which he passed on to everyone who was fortunate enough to know and love him. He valued and treated everyone he met equally. He always said, “Never judge someone else until you’ve walked in their moccasins.” He lived with no regrets, always believing that “you live every day like it’s your last, because one day you might be right.” He was a rock who helped many survive whatever storms came their way, and he will be deeply missed by those who knew and loved him.
Wechsler is survived by his devoted wife of fifty-six years, Helene; their children, Lee, Gregg, and Dale; and their spouses, Nancy Wechsler and John McCarthy. He took the most pleasure in time spent with his grandchildren, Jamie, Ashley, Aaron, Rachel, and Jared. He was predeceased by his parents, Rebecca and David Wechsler, and his brother, Bernard Wechsler.