Dr. Hobart Abraham Lerner M.D.
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Dr. Hobart Abraham Lerner, MD

Brighton - Passed away peacefully on September 28, 2020, at the age of 101. He is survived by his devoted wife of 56 years, Elinor Otto Lerner; three children, Barry (Ann), Marcy Samel (Jonathan), and Kenneth (Miriam); three step-children, Karen Kenning, Kathy Kennedy, and Joan Kennedy; seven grandchildren, Stefanie Cassel, Michelle and P. Douglas Roth, Andrew and Jennifer Samel, Nathan and Jamison Lerner; and three great-grandchildren, Amelia, Olivia, and Lydia Cassel; cousins, nieces, nephews, many devoted friends and patients. Predeceased by sister Sally Lerner David.

Dr. Lerner was a member of the attending staff of Genesee Hospital where he served as Chief of Ophthalmology from 1966 to 1988, and of Strong Memorial, Rochester General, and Highland Hospitals. He was Clinical Professor of Ophthalmology at the Flaum Eye Institute. As a member of state and national medical societies, Dr. Lerner was a tireless proponent for excellent health care and sensible legislation to ensure safe medical practices. In 2007 he was honored as the most senior Fellow of the American Academy of Ophthalmology still in active practice. Long a member of the NY State Ophthalmology Society, he served as its president from 1984-1986, and on the Board of Directors from 1975 until his death.

An innovator and a pioneer in his field, he was among the first ophthalmologists to use the laser in eye surgery. In 1968 he performed the first ever cataract intraocular lens implant operation done in Rochester, at the time one of only a few ophthalmologists performing the procedure.

Dr. Hobart A. Lerner (or Hobie, as he was known to friends and colleagues) was born in Rochester, NY on July 29, 1919, to the late Macy L. Lerner, MD and the late Therma Grunthal Lerner. He graduated with high honors in 1936 from Monroe High School, where he was Rochester Metropolitan Interscholastic Champion in the 100-yard dash and 220-yard dash, and was undefeated in competition over two years. At Harvard College he was a four-year member of the varsity track team competing in the sprints, middle-distance events, and as a member of Harvard's Crack Mile Relay Team. He earned gold medals in the Milrose games and other prestigious national track meets. Dr. Lerner graduated Magna Cum Laude in June 1940.

Dr. Lerner earned his MD from Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in 1943. Following an internship at Michael Reese Hospital, he served as Lieutenant (JG) MC USNR during WWII at Great Lakes Naval Station, in Okinawa, and finally at Pearl Harbor.

After an honorable discharge in 1946, Dr. Lerner completed his residency training in Ophthalmology at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester, and a year of post-graduate work in ophthalmology at the NY University School of Medicine. He entered private practice in Rochester in 1949 in association with his father until his father's death in 1962. Dr. Lerner continued in private practice until he retired at the age of 95, beloved by hundreds of patients for his diligence, warmth, and irrepressible sense of humor.

From his mother, he inherited a passion and natural aptitude for music. He studied piano, viola, trumpet, and voice at the Eastman School of Music, and at the age of six learned the harmonica from grandfather Rudolph Grunthal. Dr. Lerner serenaded friends, family, and complete strangers around the world with impressive, impromptu performances of musical favorites,new and old, singing or playing harmonica, once leading a spontaneous parade of enthusiastic followers down the streets of New York City. He was a lifelong attendee and supporter of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra and GEVA.

He and his wife, Elinor (Ellie), enjoyed downhill skiing into their 80s. Dr. Lerner sought out every black diamond slope from New England and Quebec to the Rockies. Festooned with an assortment of heavy cameras and lenses and several large harmonicas, Dr. Lerner and Ellie traveled throughout Europe, the Far East, Middle East and Central and South America. Always ready for an adventure and a challenge, Dr. Lerner also became a licensed pilot. He owned and flew several single-engine and twin-engine aircrafts, and sometimes piloted Elinor on vacations as far as Puerto Rico, the Yucatan Peninsula, and Acapulco.

A Private Graveside Service will be held in the Temple B'rith Kodesh plot of Mt. Hope Cemetery on Wednesday, October 7, 2020, at 1:30 PM BY INVITATION ONLY. Those not invited may watch the service at www.BrightonMC.com. Donations in his memory may be made to the David and Eileen Flaum Eye Institute.










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Published in Rochester Democrat And Chronicle from Oct. 1 to Oct. 4, 2020.
MEMORIAL EVENTS
OCT
7
Graveside service
01:30 PM
Memories & Condolences
Guest Book sponsored by Brighton Memorial Chapel, Inc.
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30 entries
October 28, 2020
Great physician, friend and fellow pilot. Humanity needs more like him. He will be missed.
Marcia and David Gitelman
October 14, 2020
Dr Lerner knew 4 generations of my family and we all loved him. He was in Community Players with my parents and he called my Mother by her character's name for decades ("Dolly"). He picked up my Grandfather and took him to the hospital for his cataract surgery in the 1950s. Even though I was only coming home for a visit, he took my phone call and saw me with an eye emergency. He helped me with my Aunt, when she needed special paperwork. All these things may have been just in a day's work for him...but I think not. He never missed a wake for my family. He was kind to my son. He had an uncanny likeness to my Dad. Dad was stopped several times over the years and was asked if he was "Hobie". He was unique, a character, sometimes hard to fathom, greater than we all knew and gave great hugs. I had the distinct honor of being pictured with him in the Democrat when he retired. Our thoughts and prayers to his family and also to Laraine and Maria. He is sorely missed. We do not get over these things but we do get through them. Be good to yourselves now. With love and admiration, Jean Ver Hoeven, Charlie Siletti & Daniel Siletti
Jean Ver Hoeven
October 8, 2020
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scott macrae
October 6, 2020
I have known Dr. Lerner all my life and loved him like a grandfather. He was a wonderful physician, and always took the time to explain everything. He cared enough to write letters of recommendations and assist with my job search out of law school. I will miss him more than words can say. The world has lost a treasure with his passing. My condolences to his wife Ellie, his family and to all of his patients and co-workers. May his memory be a blessing.
Kirsten
Friend
October 6, 2020
In loving memory of a wonderful person. We will love you and miss you always.
Shirley Prudom
Family
October 6, 2020
Remarkable man I was amazed of his knowledge and his teaching he was a wonderful person I enjoy taking care of him during my time with him and his wife Ellie he taught me a lot and I was amazed at his age he will be truly missed love Virginia.
VirginiaMatthews
Friend
October 5, 2020
Re-reading my post and reading through others. (I took my mother to see Dr. Lerner in 1013, not 2007.) What a treasure we have lost! A doctor for generations of family members, children, parents, grandparents... And he took the time to know each one of us, to come to funerals, and genuinely let us know he cared deeply for each and every one. We are blessed for having him touch our lives.
Martha Teal
Friend
October 5, 2020
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Donald Tingley
October 5, 2020
It was an honor to work with Dr. Lerner for almost 40 years. I used to call him the "Energizer Bunny" because he never stopped working. He wanted to make the world a better place and he did. I will miss him beyond words. So many memories ! His spirit will live forever in my heart.
Laraine
Coworker
October 5, 2020
Ellie:

My brother Brook and I, Hobie's first cousins, send our sincere condolences. We loved him very much and looked up to him. We will be in touch with his children. Kisses and love,
Cousin Richard Hart
Dr. Richard Hart
Family
October 5, 2020
Hobi I can safely was my good friend and sipa Ophthalmologist for many years Hobi and Ellie spent four weeks with my family and me Claudette Karen and Roger their first time visiting Jamaica enjoying the different sites. I look forward to his expert care of my eyes over the years. Our deepest condolences to Ellie and the rest of the family. It is regret that I did attend his 100th birthday party to which I was invited. Rest In Peace my dear friend. Gillie (Jamaica)
Wilbert (Gillie) Elliston
Friend
October 5, 2020
Hobie will be greatly missed!!!

Hobie was a precious Jewel for the community. After I was recruited to Rochester in 2000, Hobie took an afternoon off and drove me around town and gave me a tour of all the famous spots and some of his favorite sites. He was a wonderful gentleman, a mentor to many and a great clinician. A life very well lived. He will be very missed.
Scott MacRae
October 5, 2020
So sorry for your loss Ellie. I worked for you and Dr Lerner on East Avenue and he was a great doctor. His patients loved him. He will be missed. God Bless him and may he Rest In Peace.
Barbara DiFrancesco
Coworker
October 5, 2020
While sad to hear of Hobie's passing, I am incredibly fortunate to have know him as a mentor and as my personal opthalmologist over these past 35 years. He always went above and beyond in a way that was uniquely
Hobie. I will miss his passion for teaching as he examined my eyes, his exegesis about the state of health care and the practice of medicine, and most of all his genuine concern for his patients. He will always be the gold standard of the kind of physician I have aspired to be.
May his memory be a blessing.
Lisa Rosica
October 5, 2020
My grandfather, Rabbi Aaron Solomon, performed Hobie’s bar- mitzvah. I think that Hobie had a broken leg. Dr. Lerner’s genius intellect and knowledge and love of learning, and caring for his patients, is really something to be admired and respected. What an honor to have him be my Ophthalmologist, for almost 60 years. He also took care of my mother, Judith Solomon Kravetz, before her death at the age of 34, when I was just three. A few times I brought someone into an appointment with me, so that Dr. Lerner could explain how my eyes worked, and what I could/ couldn’t see. He told me once that it’s a miracle that we were born with everything working right as it is!. Jayne (Kravetz) Miller
Jayne (Kravetz) Miller
Friend
October 5, 2020
I meant to add that when I got married, and I only had about 40 relatives attend, I invited Dr. Lerner and Ellie. This was in 1995. Dr. Lerner and Ellie danced and had a great time, and I was so delighted that they were there! I just want to add that I loved him so much. I can’t tell you how many times I had to have him write letters to my jobs saying that I could see, even though it was harder for me to focus. He helped me fight a lot of discrimination. Jayne (Kravetz) Miller
Jayne (Kravetz) Miller
Friend
October 5, 2020
I just found out early this morning that my beloved Dr. Lerner died. I’m so sad. I met him in March 1959, when I was only six months old. He was my doctor for a good 57 years. His passing is a loss to the entire world. I trusted him implicitly with my eyes, and he operated on both of them in 1967, when I was a nine-year-old child. My sincere and deep condolences to his family. I remember visiting him in the Jewish Home when he had hip surgery. I used to joke with him, that I was his oldest youngest“ patient, because I was 57 and I had been going to him for 57 years. (Many of the other patients he had who been going to him for over 57 years were in theIr 80s). He was one of the most constant people I ever had in my life. He knew me since I was a baby. Going to see him was such an emotional experience for me, that I often cried, just because he knew me forever, and there weren’t too many people left who had. And he would say, “Jayne, you’re crying out all my eye drops.” May Dr. Hobie Lerner rest in Heavenly Peace. He deserves it. Jayne (Kravetz) Miller.
Jayne Miller
Friend
October 4, 2020
My mother Patricia Brennan Naylon, Monroe HS, died in 2018 age 101, was a classmate and patient of Dr Lerner and she always spoke fondly of him. Maybe there was something in the water......sorry for your loss.
Michael E Naylon
COL, USA Ret
Reston Va
MICHAEL E. NAYLON
Friend
October 4, 2020
Hobie was my first cousin, once removed. He and my father were 5 months apart in age, and both grew up in Rochester and attended Monroe High School.
What a mensch!
It was an honor to be related to him, but even more so to be his friend.
Two years ago when my wife needed eye surgery in Denver, Hobie gave us medical, practical, and moral support, sent us to the best doctor, followed up with her recovery, and never failed to be the kind of man anyone would be honored and proud to know.
He will be missed.
Jim Bush
Family
October 4, 2020
I was a patient of Dr. Lerner and later became a friend. He was brilliant, caring and compassionate. The world will be a sadder place without him.
Gail
Friend
October 4, 2020
I was a patient of Dr. Lerner for 63 years.from 1951 until the day he retired in December 2014. He saw four generations of my family.from my parents down to my grandson. We always felt so fortunate to be in his care; he was a highly skilled and caring doctor, and wonderful human being who gave everything he had to his patients. As a child, I remember very long waits in his Park Avenue (first office) waiting roomall of us knowing that when we got in to see him we were the center of his universe. He was more than worth the wait and we appreciated his great skill; he had miraculously saved a good portion of my cousin’s eyesight when at age 13 a BB ricocheted off a tree and went into my cousin’s eye. Intermittently there would be humor thrown in our long waitsfor example, bringing a former secretary out after an exam and announcing to all (including his current secretaries) that she had been the best GD secretary he had ever had.and educating his patients on the importance of seeing an eye doctor routinely, by coming out from the exam room with my father and telling those in the waiting room that, unbelievably, my father, at his age, just saw an eye doctor for the very first time in his life, and how no one should wait that long!! Even my father laughed about this for years to come.and he remained a patient until he died at 96. We all understood Dr. Lerner and his intentions and the fact that he truly cared and was and ALWAYS would be there for us when needed.any hour of the day or night or over a weekend...as he was on more than one occasion for us!! He took his patients into his heart and his patients took him into theirs; we were "family." He mellowed over the years and at each appointment or when we saw each other in Wegmans or at his house after he retired, we hugged and gave each other a kiss on the cheek. If the funeral were not invitation only, I would be there as he was for both of my parents’ funerals (his and Ellie's presence meant so much to us), but I will be watching over the web, remembering him with great fondness and appreciation for all that he did for me and for my family over so many years. I send my deepest condolences to Ellie and the family and thank you all for sharing him with us.
Linda Witters Baker
October 4, 2020
Dr. Hobart Lerner was the Greatest eye Dr. a person could ever have He was my Dr. for 60 plus years I loved Him condolences too the family and His awesome staff Nurse Lorraine may He always RIH
Deborah Mack
October 4, 2020
Looks like he passed during the High Holy Days of the Jewish Calendar, right on Yom Kippur perhaps that is significant. I had both of my eyes operated on multiple times by Hobie, and will read and read and read history, astrology, politics, anything of interest. This from a child who was told as a toddler that I would never be able to read. He always brought a smile to my face, both in and out of the office. The last time I saw him we had coffee at the Dryden Theatre, and although we spent over 90 minutes there, I only got about 20 or 30 minutes conversation out of him. During that 90 minutes, he kept getting phone calls over eye emergencies! Mothers worried, panicked, and called Hobie, even though he was 96 and mostly "retired" to half days, and those patients had long since been assigned to other eye doctors. They still wanted him....some people are just so special they will never ever be forgotten!
Janice Nunn
Friend
October 4, 2020
Hobie, thank you for the honor of counting me as one of your friends and accepting me as part of your family. You know I love you!
Francine
October 4, 2020
Hobie, thank you for the honor as counting me as one of your friends and accepting me as part of your family. You know I love you!
Francine
October 4, 2020
Dr Lerner was my mentor, I was manager of the Genesee Hospital Medical Photography Dept. Dr Lerner approached me to help start a Fluuresein Angiography service at the Genesee. He sent me to Johns Hopkins, Wilmer Eye Institute to learn Ophthalmic photography/Fluorescein Angiography of the Retina- He (and I) started the first FA clinic in in Rochester.

He had a passion for new innovative techniques- raised funds to buy the expensive Zeiss FA equipment that I used to diagnose diseases of the retina. I did the photography/ film processing and printing Angiograms and he and other Ophthalmologists read them like a radiologist would read an X-ray- to determine course of treatment, usually using a Laser, which he raised the funds to purchase for the clinic. He will always be remembered.
Dave Welker
Coworker
October 4, 2020
I was four when he did my eye surgery and could hear his voice booming down the hall. My heart was filled with a strange mixture of fear and comfort. He gave me 40 years of 20/20 eyesight when he fixed my crossed and lazy eyes. I am forever grateful. He was ever so kind to my confused mother when I took her to see him in 2007. He was almost 94 then and his voice the same as it had been when I was just a child. He had been my grandparents' doctor, my parents' doctor, and mine. He came to see us when my grandpa passed away, and when my father died. I find myself teary this morning to learn that he is gone. He was a kind and gentle soul and I shall miss him.
Martha (Plotzker) Teal
Friend
October 4, 2020
I was a patient of Dr. Lerner as a child in the late 1950's, early 60's. My deepest sympathy to Ellie and family on your great loss.
Susan Braverman
Friend
October 4, 2020
Hobie was my first cousin & old enough to be my father. He was the eldest of our group. I grew up in NYC away from the Lerner family home in Rochester & he and my mom (his aunt) were very close. I remember watching him teach her to sew up the hole in a turkey after stuffing it! As patriarch of the Lerner clan he was a familiar presence to its far-flung members including me. My first flight was with him as pilot in a tiny plane in a very exciting ride! I will remember him for his stories (he ran track at Harvard with JFK), his warmth and his interest in so many things. Although he was much older & we lived in different cities I was always aware that we were close. So sorry you’re not here anymore. I love you Hobie, Sara.
Sara Lerner Leffert Sobel
Family
October 3, 2020
My father, Edward Robena was Dr. Lerner's 1st surgical patient back in about 1951. My mom, husband & myself were his patients until he retired. He was a fantastic person!
Linda Robena Collinge
Friend
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