Dr. Morris “Mendy” Fine

by | Nov 25, 2020 | Obituaries

Palo Alto, Calif.—Dr. Morris “Mendy” Fine, 94, a retired pediatrician and long-term resident of Buffalo, NY before spending his final years in Palo Alto, Calif., died Friday, November 20, 2020.

He was born July 12, 1926, in Norfolk, Va. to Charles Harry and Celia Fine. Mendy was the sixth of seven children. His siblings included five sisters and one brother, and he was the younger of his parents’ two sons and the second youngest of their seven children. Following graduation from Maury High School in Norfolk, Va., Mendy served as a sonar technician in the U.S. Navy during World War II and would often tell his children on their birthdays that he celebrated his 19th birthday in the middle of the Pacific Ocean on a navy ship.

Each of Mendy’s siblings remained in Virginia into adulthood while Mendy embarked to Salt Lake City, Utah for a medical internship after completing his bachelor’s and medical degrees at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville. Before moving to Utah, he married Gloria Stein (1931–2016) in 1953, the same day he graduated from Medical School. They then moved from Salt Lake City to Salina, Utah where he was a family physician. It was in Salina that Gloria gave birth to the first two of their five daughters. Mendy and Gloria moved to Buffalo, NY in 1958 for Mendy to pursue a pediatric residency after which he built an active private pediatric practice over several decades before retiring in the early 1990s. Mendy and Gloria were active in Jewish and synagogue life. Mendy would chant the Kiddush over wine at Shabbat dinner on Friday evenings and bring his children to synagogue on Saturday mornings. Mendy’s daughters remember plenty of Saturdays following Shabbat morning services where he would check on his newborns and young patients at Children’s Hospital in downtown Buffalo while his own younger children would wait in the hospital library surrounded by dog-eared medical journals.

Mendy and Gloria’s travels included Caribbean cruises by themselves and car trips with their children that included a six-week cross-country trip in the late 1960s and frequent visits to Mendy’s Virginia-based parents, his siblings and their children. These trips to Virginia included trips to Virginia Beach, which Mendy’s children particularly enjoyed. Mendy and Gloria would often pack their children into a station wagon a few times a year to drive across the Canadian border to Toronto, Ontario, where they would purchase large quantities of Kosher meat and baked goods for later storage in the family’s second freezer in the basement. On one special family trip Mendy and Gloria brought their children to Israel to celebrate Passover in 1972.

After Mendy and Gloria divorced, Mendy married Edith Pierce (1926-2018) in 1986. Mendy and Edith regularly attended synagogue services and participated in an active synagogue life that included Mendy frequently reading from the Torah on Shabbat mornings, and serving as the synagogue mohel for many years. They took several international trips, visiting every continent except Antarctica, and were active domestic travelers in their RV. It was also during these years that Mendy took up distance running. He would often tell people that he ran two marathons in a single day–his first and his last. Mendy also enjoyed playing racquetball at the Jewish Community Center of Buffalo.

Mendy moved to Palo Alto in 2015 to be near his daughter Naomi following his separation from Edith. During these years he took special pleasure in being an active participant in synagogue life which included daily early morning Torah and Talmud study before 7am Shacharit services. He especially enjoyed Naomi’s homemade and delicious Shabbat dinners, which gave everyone a chance to visit and catch up on the week’s learning and events.

Morris Fine is survived by his daughters Debra Fine (Dr. Steven Tilliss) of Greenwood, Col., Naomi Fine (Kathy Levinson) of Palo Alto, Judith Zahn (Gary Zahn) of Hewlett, N.Y., Dr. Terri Susan Fine (Paul Stenzler) of Orlando, Fla., Dr. Elisabeth Fine of Somerville, Mass., his sister Thelma Fine Oser of Norfolk, four grandchildren, three great grandchildren and six step-grandchildren.

Donations in memory of Dr. Morris Fine may be made to Emek Beracha (www.emekberacha.org), or by sending a check to Emek Beracha, 3790 El Camino Real (Box 2015), Palo Alto, CA 94306, or Congregation Kol Emeth, 4175 Manuela Ave, Palo Alto, CA 94306.