Dr. Ira Gelb, FAU medical icon and Boca community leader, dies at 92
By: Dale King
Dr. Ira Gelb was a man of medicine. But he was also a leader in the Boca Raton community, a physician who served his country in war years and served medical students at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton in later life.
A familiar face around town, often seen with June Gelb, his wife of nearly 50 years, the medical practitioner of Boca passed away on Sept. 14.
“Ira was a visionary, an educational icon, an American hero and one of FAU’s most steadfast friends,” said FAU President John Kelly, one of many in the community who offered his thoughts on the death of the affable physician.
“Ira made an indelible mark on this university and his legacy will live on through the many lives he touched as a physician, teacher and philanthropist.”
A native of Queens, N.Y., Dr. Gelb’s passing was recorded in a lengthy obituary in the New York Times. The writeup recalled how 5-year-old Ira would accompany his Uncle Max on his rounds as a medical man in the Bronx, forming the groundwork for the youth’s future.
Ira graduated at age 16 from Flushing High School, where he was valedictorian. He enrolled as one of the pioneering pre-med students at New York University. After graduating, he became an intern at Kings County College in Brooklyn. Two years later, he signed on with the US Army Medical Corps and served until the mid-decade.
After attending the University of Colorado Medical School, he became the Dr. Masters NIH Fellow in Cardiology at the Mount Sinai Hospital. He soon became a renowned cardiologist and practiced at both Mount Sinai and at New Rochelle Hospital. He treated patients during a career that stretched 35 years.
After undergoing heart surgery himself in 1992, he was no longer able to practice medicine. Dr. Gelb and June, who married in 1970, moved to Boca Raton and he joined the Continuing Science faculty at FAU.
“Dr. Gelb was one of the earliest champions of medical education,” said Kelly. “He founded the former University of Miami Miller School of Medicine’s regional program at FAU, which ultimately became the Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine. He later served as senior academic advisor for pre-baccalaureate programs and professor of integrated medical science in the Schmidt College. The students who were fortunate enough to have him as an instructor shared that he was always willing to help, and they felt that he really wanted them to succeed.”
“Dr. Gelb gave his time generously, as well as his expertise and financial resources, particularly to FAU and our medical school,” said the university president. “He served as a member of the Schmidt College of Medicine’s Advisory Board and Pre-professional Committee, the Advisory Board for the Charles E. Schmidt College of Science and the FAU Foundation Board of Directors, serving as chairman from 2004-2006.”
Along with his wife, Dr. Gelb established the June and Ira J. Gelb, M.D. Endowed Scholarship Fund for Medical Student Education to provide financial support to medical students. In 2014, the June and Ira J. Gelb, M.D. Auditorium in the Schmidt College of Medicine building was named in their honor.
Besides his wife, Dr. Gelb is survived by three children, a stepson, three grandchildren and a step-granddaughter.
The funeral was held Wednesday. A Celebration of Life service will be scheduled a few months after the coronavirus pandemic ends. Memorial contributions in the doctor’s honor may be made to the June and Ira J. Gelb, M.D. Endowed Scholarship Fund. Online: https://fau.edu/giveagift or by mail: ATTN David Green, FAU Schmidt College of Medicine, 777 Glades Road, BC-71, Boca Raton, FL 33431.