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Donald R. Reisfield

1926 - 2016 Obituary Condolences Gallery
Donald R. Reisfield Obituary
Donald R. Reisfield

AGE: 90 • New Brunswick

Donald R. Reisfield, passed away peacefully on November 6, 2016 at his home in Marin County, California. Born in New Brunswick, New Jersey in 1926, he was the son of Alexander and Hannah (Brody) Reisfield.

Although he was asked to repeat kindergarten due to high-spirited behavior, he proved an academic force, graduating from New Brunswick High School at age 16. His college education was interrupted when, as soon as he was old enough, he volunteered for active service in WW II. He was stationed in occupied Japan where he earned the rank of corporal, learned to speak Japanese and won a writing competition sponsored by the Red Cross. His prize featured a two-week tour throughout Japan, which fostered a lifelong interest in the culture. In 1948 he graduated from Rutgers, where he was a member of the varsity baseball team. The following year he earned a Masters in Biology.

He used the GI Bill to help pay for medical school at Columbia University's College of Physicians and Surgeons (1954) where he was elected on the basis of academic scholarship to Alpha Omega Alpha, the national medical honor society. This was followed by an internship at Grace-New Haven Medical Center at Yale University and a residency at Sloane Hospital for Women at Columbia Presbyterian in New York. He was awarded the prestigious Amos Tucker Traveling Fellowship and spent much of 1958 and 1959 studying surgical techniques at hospitals in Sweden, England and Austria. Dr. Reisfield was credited on 21 medical and scientific publications. He was a guest of the Karolinska Institute at the 1958 Nobel Prize dinner.

In 1960, Dr. Reisfield returned to his hometown to open his obstetrics and gynecology practice. He enjoyed nearly forty years as a pillar of the medical community and a champion of women's reproductive rights. He was beloved by his patients and revered as a virtuoso surgeon by his colleagues at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital and St. Peter's Hospital. During his dedicated career Dr. Reisfield delivered over 10,000 babies.

Among his numerous hobbies, athletic pursuits and interests, he was an avid Napoleonophile. He traveled to every major battlefield of the Napoleonic era. He was a member of the Napoleonic Society of America and published several papers offering perspective on the impact of medical issues during the life and times of Napoleon Bonaparte.

Dr. Reisfield's wife of 61 years, Gray Gustafson Reisfield, survives him. His younger sister, Elaine Polk, survives him as well. He will be forever cherished and missed by his four children: Scott Reisfield, Gray Horan, Craig Reisfield and Derek Reisfield, their spouses, eight grandchildren and great-grandchild.
Published in Home News Tribune on Nov. 20, 2016
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