Obituaries » Howard Belzberg
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April 11, 1951 - November 21, 2023
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Howard was born the first of three sons to Eva and Saul Belzberg in Bronx, New York. His parents were hard working immigrants looking to the promise of America post World War II. His father was a baker with his mother a hardworking partner in their business. The family moved to Jamaica, Queens, New York where Howard attended elementary school and welcomed his two younger brothers, Gary, and Edward. Howard was very proud to be a first-generation Belzberg.
Howard moved with his family to Los Angeles, California while he was in 5th grade, Gary, a toddler, and Edward about 6 weeks old. His father continued pursing the American dream building his bakery business and expanding to a deli restaurant format. Howard often accompanied his father to the bakery, learning the business of bagels, bread, and Danish. When not in school he helped his mom in the deli and restaurant. He was definitely the older brother, helping Gary and Edward while his mom and dad worked long hours. Once he was in high school and equipped with a driver’s license, he made the Sunday morning bagel deliveries throughout West Los Angeles and the Torrance area. He continued helping in the deli and restaurant through his college years. He was a counselor and active participant in the Jewish Youth Group, AZA throughout his high school years at Hamilton High and continuing while at UCLA. Howard’s generosity and concern for others only continued to grow as did his interest in medicine.
Howard pursued his medical career, starting medical school in Guadalajara, Mexico. His gift for language helped to learn and become fluent in Spanish, his fourth language. He grew up speaking Hungarian, his parents’ first language. He always joked this was self-defense. However, he was able to help his parents with their English skills after he learned English in school and from television and old movies. He learned French when he studied for a semester at the Sorbonne. He then went on for another year abroad at Hebrew University, becoming fluent in Hebrew. Howard also enjoyed seeing his aunts, uncles and cousins living in Israel.
Howard returned to New York where he interned at Bronx Lebanon Hospital. He then proceeded to Bakersfield, California where he completed his Internal Medicine residency at the UCLA affiliated Kern Medical Center. During his training he was known as the most invasive internist. This interest and skill at caring for the sickest patients, lead him to pursue training at one of the first critical care fellowships, at the Maryland Institute of Emergency Medical Services. This unit is now the Shock Trauma Unit of the University of Maryland Hospital. It was here Howard found his interest to be in caring for critically ill trauma patients and those with severe brain and spinal injuries. He was able to develop his clinical care and research skills there.
Howard met his future wife Linda while both were in training at University of Maryland. He was thrilled to have a partner who understood his dedication to his patients and career. He was supportive of her training in anesthesiology and pain medicine. Howard always thought about returning to California. Those humid Baltimore summers and winter snows were not his favorite times of year. Howard was thrilled to be offered a position in Los Angeles, to become a director of the Surgical Intensive Care Unit under the Director of the newly formed Trauma Service at the LAC+USC Medical Center. He was honored to follow in the footsteps of pioneering Critical Care physician Dr. Max Harry Weil. The hospital is now the Los Angeles General Medical Center.
Howard and Linda moved to Los Angeles where she started as faculty in the Department of Anesthesiology at the University of Southern California. They were married the following year, settling in Pasadena, California. Howard and Linda often welcomed family, colleagues, and friends to their home for many vacation visits and holiday gatherings. Their New Years’ Day open house following the Rose Parade was always a festive event attended by many friends who were parade attendees. Howard perfected his famous onion soup, which was served with deli sandwiches to warm up the parade goers. They also hosted the surgical residents’ end of the year barbeque featuring hilarious surgical skits.
Howard continued as a compassionate clinician, dedicated educator, and clinical researcher throughout his career. His selflessness and continuing pursuit of excellence in care of all patients, served as a role model to many students, young physicians, and colleagues. He mentored many critical care physicians and trauma surgeons including international colleagues. He was instrumental in helping Israeli trauma surgeons develop the Advanced Trauma Life Support Course from the American College of Surgeons.
Howard enjoyed work as a physician and intensivist, but also enjoyed his hobby of flying small personal aircraft later in life. He was able to bring his professionalism and attention to detail to his hobby. While flying he was able to refresh returning to earth for the next day’s critically ill patients.
Howard and Linda shared a love and dedication to medicine, passion for flight and an unwavering love for each other.
Howard had a special love for his niece, nephews, and the children of their friends and colleagues. They both traveled far to celebrate the births, the Bnai Mitzvahs, graduations and weddings of these children.
Howard always exemplified passion, determination, hard work, concern for others, generosity, and humor. He was grounded by his faith, respect for others and altruism. A life well lived and treasured by all who knew him!
Howard is survived by his wife, Linda; brothers, Gary, and Edward; Brothers-in-law and their wives, William and Katie and David and Toshie; Nephews, Joseph Belzberg, Michael Belzberg, Daniel Belzberg, William Rever IV and Neice, Corinne Rever.
In lieu of flowers, charitable donations, in Howard’s name, can be made to the Israel Association For the Advancement of Trauma Care and to a lectureship at the Keck/USC annual Trauma Symposium.