Dr. Theodore (Ted) Adler

by | Jan 21, 2021 | Obituaries

Virginia Beach—Early Monday morning, January 11, Dr. Theodore (Ted) Adler passed away peacefully at home. He was 91 and died from complications of COVID.

Ted defied simple categories and possessed a modest nature, a gentle and quiet manner. He had a deep curiosity about the world and a joie de vivre that was contagious. He knew how to love well and to make this world a better place.

Ted grew up in West Ghent and attended Taylor, Blair and Maury High School. He graduated from University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill and gave his lifelong loyalty to the Tar Heels. He graduated with honors from Medical College of Virginia (MCV, now VCU) and was a member of Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society. He had a surgical internship at Mass Memorial Hospital in Boston. Then he returned to MCV for his surgical residency. The family packed their bags and drove west so Ted could fulfill his two-year military obligation, he was assigned to Ft. Ord, Calif., where he assumed the leadership role of Chief of Surgery when his commanding officer suddenly was transferred to Japan. The Adler family embraced the experience, discovering new territory and new interests, which, for the parents included exploring wine country and playing golf.

He returned to the Norfolk/Virginia Beach area and practiced at Norfolk General and Leigh Hospitals and became Chief of Surgery at DePaul Hospital. When Virginia Beach General Hospital opened in 1965, the practice responded with a Virginia Beach office. Later the practice expanded even further, and Ted held titles of Chief of Surgery and Chief of Staff at Bayside Hospital. Ted was easily recognizable in the hospital with his characteristic bow ties and a smile and kind word for all those who came his way. He became an Assistant Professor of surgery at Eastern Virginia Medical School where he trained and mentored surgical residents. He was an innovator, he performed the first laparoscopic gallbladder surgery at Virginia Beach General Hospital. Rarely one to grab the spotlight, he couldn’t contain his excitement about this advancement in medical care. “It’s simply a better way of doing it,” Dr. Adler told The Virginian-Pilot in 1990. Ted’s specialty training in burn surgery at MCV enabled him to advance burn care; his expertise saved the life of a severely burned child as a result of a jet crashing nearby.

Dr. Adler retired from practice in 1999, but he continued to contribute, including participating in a Physicians for Peace mission to Kazakhstan in 2001.

It should be said that Ted was not about titles. He was about healing and leaving the world a little more whole than he found it. His central lesson to his children was to treat every person with kindness, compassion and humanity.

Ask Ted what he was proudest of and he would tell you—his family.

Ted met his beloved Sally Segal in Richmond and together, they “had a great ride” as Ted said. They travelled the world and were well versed in history, culture, politics, food and wine. They were soulmates blessed with 65 years of a marriage, ever adventurous and new. Ted was a Renaissance man. One would only discover the depth of Ted’s knowledge because he was so passionate about sharing his interests. His love of books spanned James Joyce and Marcel Proust to Samuel Beckett. He was passionate about opera, and Ted and Sally would have regular jaunts to New York City to attend the Met and enjoy Broadway shows. He was known for his exquisite rose garden.
Strangers would ring the doorbell asking for advice on their roses. After his retirement, he and Sally earned the title of life master duplicate bridge players. They traversed the country competing in bridge tournaments, where they developed connections with other duplicate bridge players. During COVID, his on-line bridge “table” consisted of Sally and his two adult children, Leslie Guth and Harry Adler.

Ted adored his children, Leslie Adler Guth (Peter) in Newtown, Pennsylvania and Harry Adler (Leslie) in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He parented through his quiet example of service, kindness, and acceptance. He was smitten by his grandchildren, Isaac Adler (NYC), Michael Guth (NYC) and Maya Adler (Wellington, NZ), delighting in their unique personalities and their different life paths. He was overjoyed at being able to attend his grandsons’ weddings and welcome their brides, Dr. Sharon Chacko (wife of Michael Guth) and Claire Goscicki (wife of Isaac Adler) as additional granddaughters. He is preceded in death by his parents Minnie and Irwin Adler and brothers, Marvin Adler and Jerome Adler. He is also survived by dear sister-in-law, Evelyn Adler and many wonderful nieces and nephews.

We will miss him.

He was a member of Ohef Sholom Temple, and the Cavalier Golf and Yacht and Club.

Donations to Eastern Virginia Medical School or to the charity of your choice.

H.D. Oliver Funeral Apartments. A service was conducted by Rabbi Rosalin Mandelberg at Forest Lawn. Condolences may be sent to the family through hdoliver.com.