Stuart Weisfeldt Delivered New Life, Leadership to Adopted Hometown
CHELMSFORD — Countless babies spanning generations were delivered by Dr. Stuart Weisfeldt over his long career as an obstetrician/gynecologist.
So many, in fact, that his own children would frequently meet them over the years, including many of their friends growing up.
He was a beloved old-school doctor who truly cared about giving his patients one-on-one time and care regardless of their ability to pay, and a man who gave back to his adopted hometown of Chelmsford as a three-term selectman and coach.
“He enjoyed being with people, being part of something,” said his wife, Barbara Weisfeldt, of Tyngsboro. “He loved the town because the town had given him a good life, and he felt he had to do something in return.”
Stuart died April 30 at age 91, after a period of declining health.
Born and raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Stuart earned his undergraduate and medical degrees at Marquette University before enlisting in the U.S. Air Force for two years, serving in Topeka, Kansas.
During a trip back home to attend a cousin’s wedding in the summer of 1956, he met then-Barbara Kronick, with whom he would share more than 62 years of marriage.
The Athol native, living in upstate New York at the time, had never met her cousin, the groom, but thought a road trip out to the event would be fun. She talked her father into it, reasoning that he could see his brothers in Michigan, and they could stop in Detroit to get a new car.
Having just been a bridesmaid for another cousin’s wedding, she wore the pink V-neck dress that caught Stuart’s attention.
“He always remembered the pink dress,” Barbara said. “He would always tell people, ‘I married her because of that pink dress.’”
The two were smitten with one another, but when Barbara returned to her life back east, she thought she’d never hear from him again. She was wrong.
A few months later, Barbara and a girlfriend traveled to Kansas to visit him. That December, he had a ring when he came to see her.
Upon obtaining her father’s blessing, the two married in a small ceremony in Milwaukee Dec. 22, 1956, before he was to begin his residency. Stuart swore he’d never diagnose his family, but the first thing he did as a married man was to diagnose the broken foot Barbara suffered that day.
After his residency, they moved to Delaware, where Stuart rejoined the Air Force for another two years. Not wanting to work in the shadow of other doctors in his family in Wisconsin, they decided to relocate to Massachusetts, where Stuart soon joined a group practice in Lowell that later moved to Chelmsford.
When his partner left the medical practice, Stuart placed a classified ad to find another doctor to partner with. Dr. Alan Kent, fresh out of his residency in New York City, answered.
Kent recalled meeting the tennis short-clad Stuart in Chelmsford for the first time on July 4, 1966, after a long car ride without air conditioning in 104-degree heat.
The two immediately clicked, beginning a 27-year partnership Kent likened to a marriage. They both enjoyed keeping their patients happy and laughing while still being very caring and making sure they received good medical care, he said.
“He used to say to me, ‘I brought you up from the streets of New York, and lucky you,’ and I said, ‘Yeah,’” Kent said. “And I was lucky — after growing up in the big city this New England town was just ideal for family life.”
Over the course of the 1960s, Stuart and Barbara adopted their three children, Steven, Suzanne and David.
Everywhere his children went, they ran into people who knew their father.
“Everybody knew my dad — every teacher, every friend’s parents. I couldn’t get away with anything,” said Steve Weisfeldt, of Belmont. “When we went to the funeral home to meet with the funeral director, the first thing he said was, ‘Oh, your dad delivered my kids.’ That was life with dad.”
Patients would go into labor at all hours of the day, and Stuart would often have to leave at a moment’s notice, missing out on family dinners and events. But he always made sure he found the time to be involved in his children’s lives and activities, whether it was coaching Little League, serving as a swim judge, playing tennis together or going on family ski trips to Maine.
Suzanne McAnespie, of Dracut, said her father was a “larger than life” character who inspired her to go into the medical field. In the 10 years she worked as an emergency room nurse at Lowell General Hospital, she strove to have the same respect and integrity he had.
“He was dedicated to his patients and the people that he took care of, and using that as a guideline in general, medically or not, was always something that was a guiding force,” McAnespie said.
In December 1980, Dr. A. David Simkin was a brand-new dermatologist just starting his practice in Chelmsford. When he went around to introduce himself to all of the other doctors in Village Square, his first stop was at the office of Drs. Kent & Weisfeldt.
Simkin recalled how the two immediately welcomed him in and talked with him for a half hour despite the frequent reminders from office staff of the growing number of patients in the waiting room.
Stuart became a friend, mentor and hero to Simkin, who looked to him as an example of “a wonderful human being and a superb physician” who would drop everything to help someone in distress.
“He was energized, focused, principled and pretty much threw his heart and soul into every project: his work, his selectmanship, his mentoring of others, his coaching,” Simkin said. “He had a boyish and playful enthusiasm that was pretty infectious.”
Stuart practiced medicine for as long as he was physically able. Even after he retired from his full-time practice, he went to work for WomanHealth Chelmsford on a part-time basis. Throughout his career, he assisted low-income people through local health clinics.
A lover of dogs and horses, Stuart had two dachshunds for companions much of his life and enjoyed volunteering at MSPCA Nevins Farm in Methuen in his later years.
In 1996 he ran and was elected to the Board of Selectmen, ultimately serving nine years.
A known jokester with a sharp wit, Stuart always had something funny to say and sometimes his quips were a bit risque.
“You never knew what he was going to come out with,” said Bill Dalton, who served on the Board of Selectmen with him. “A couple times (at meetings) I had to lean over and say, ‘The mic’s on, please don’t say that.’”
George Simonian was a longtime friend and neighbor of Stuart, who delivered two of his three children. They bonded over their Air Force experiences and their families’ involvement with Chelmsford Swim & Tennis.
Stuart was two weeks older than Simonian, and always liked to remind him of it.
″‘Be careful now, I’m older than you,’” Stuart would joke, Simonian said.
When Simonian was director of curriculum for Chelmsford Public Schools in the late 1960s, he said Stuart was instrumental in helping him get the taboo topic of sexual education into the schools.
It started with films about puberty and sexual development that seventh- and eighth-grade students and their parents could voluntarily attend in the evening after school, followed by question-and-answer sessions, Simonian said. It was such a success that within a couple years, Simonian was able to introduce comprehensive health education to the school district.
This, along with Stuart’s longtime involvement at Chelmsford High School that included assistant coaching softball for 15 years and serving on the superintendent’s committee that instituted the after-prom breakfast, earned him the Chelmsford High School Alumni Association’s Lucy E. Simonian Golden Lion Award in 2010.
Though he lived in Tyngsboro for the last six years of his life, Chelmsford remained the center of his universe.
In March, he and Dalton were seated at the same table at the annual Chelmsford High School Alumni Association Hall of Fame induction dinner.
Of course, Chelmsford politics and happenings past and present dominated the conversation, Dalton said.
“We talked about 40B (housing) issues, and heavy trucks on Route 40,” Dalton said. “We talked about previous boards and things going on in the community.”
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