GREENSBORO Dr. Paul J. Simel, a Brooklyn native who practiced ophthalmology in Greensboro from 1961 until his retirement in 1999, died on August 23, 2013.
Dr. Simel, who considered it a "privilege" to have a career in medicine and surgery, graduated from Poly Prep School in 1947. He received a B.A. from Dartmouth College (1951), where he played number one on the tennis and squash teams, and jazz clarinet and saxophone in the Barbary Coast Orchestra. Simel received his M.D. from Boston University School of Medicine (1955), and did his residency in ophthalmology at Yale University where he served as chief resident as well as a member of the faculty.
After completing his medical training, Dr. Simel served as an Army ophthalmologist in Ft. Sill, Oklahoma, from 1959 to 1960. While never serving in a combat role, Simel's life was colored by World War II and the Holocaust, events that he said shaped his feelings and beliefs throughout his life.
During breaks from his busy medical practice, Dr. Simel served as a faculty member of Orbis, a nonprofit organization that works in developing countries to prevent and treat blindness through training, public health education, and improved access to quality eye care. In a specially designed and converted DC-10 aircraft - the world's only airborne ophthalmic training facility - Dr. Simel was responsible for teaching surgical techniques to local doctors in developing countries in Asia, South America and Europe. Dr. Simel's wife, Faye, accompanied him on these trips.
As a young man, Simel got his commercial, multi-engine, and twin-engine pilot's license and enjoyed flying his Cessna 210 and Mooney airplanes. In Greensboro, Simel enjoyed competing in tennis matches and won numerous times, including coming in second in doubles in the Southeast. Simel was also an avid golfer and enjoyed playing golf at Starmount Forest Country Club, especially with good friends George Breslow (Zelda), Victor Ackerman (Rose) and his childhood friend, Harvey Colchamiro [Maxine]. Simel also took up boating and fishing. Simel shared his athleticism, particularly his love of tennis and golf, with his children and grandchildren.
Dr. Simel and Faye were advocates for civil rights. "There was a time when no black person was allowed into so-called white hospitals", he told his grandchildren, "or into golf courses, tennis courts, parks, etc. We strongly felt that was wrong. Segregation is wrong...period. It is morally reprehensible". Dr. Simel and Faye are lifetime members of the Greensboro Chapter of the NAACP and Dr. Simel was asked to serve on the first Human Relations Commission of the City of Greensboro.
Simel and his wife have enjoyed traveling annually to Hilton Head with their children and grandchildren, cruising around the Caribbean, and vacationing annually in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, with friends, the late Dr. George and Dr. Ana Simkins.
This obituary was originally published in the News Record.