Amherst Magazine

David R. Perles
David R. Perles

Dr. David R. Perles departed this life surrounded by loved ones at home in Los Alamitos, CA, following an extended illness. David was born in Brooklyn, NY, in 1936, to Esther and Nathan Perles and sister Elizabeth (Beth, b. 1938). His impressive medical career in radiology spanned fifty years during which he practiced in New York, New Jersey, Korea with the 44th MASH unit (1965) and ultimately in California. He attended Abraham Lincoln High School (1948-1952), Amherst College (1953-1957) and Albert Einstein College of Medicine (1957-1961).

David and his first wife, Heran, moved with their only child, Lisa, to California in 1970. He worked in Long Beach as staff radiologist at Woodruff Community Hospital where he became chief of radiology (1980) and chief of staff (1981-1984). He continued to practice locally after this hospital's closure and later provided Locum Tenens services throughout the US and for Kindred Hospitals (Westminster, Brea, Sacramento and San Diego). David belonged to the American College of Radiology (1970-1980) and the American Medical Association (1995-2007).

In addition to these prodigious academic and professional accomplishments, David will most be remembered for his kind, warm heart, sparkling wit, verbal skill, intellectual curiosity, musical talent and artistic spirit. His promise was best described by his high school art teacher who said, "Impressive as his artwork may be, however, I would be inclined to subordinate them to the qualities of modesty and
compatibility; to his ability to discuss, understand and tolerate conflicting points of view; to his friendliness and unassuming charm; and to the promise shown by his inquiring mind and his rejection of the trite, the obvious and the banal. There are very few people that I can say will help make our society the one we would like to live in." (1952)

The scope of his talents and depth of his vision cannot easily be captured here. David was a true Renaissance fellow who excelled in almost all endeavors including tennis, running, piano, writing,
photography, painting, poetry, analyzing movies, art, science, and the meaning of life. He was a prankster and scrabble aficionado and had a passion for a hearty spaghetti dinner. He personified a philosopher's sensibility regarding the universe, mankind and the foibles of the everyday.

David wrote, "A courageous view of the universe allows for the celebration of life. It also respects the poetic mystery of human consciousness, and its vision of the universe where certain concepts of physics and astronomy reveal the intimate structure of matter to be essentially unknowable. Hence, death becomes a terrifying, fascinating part of man's experience which is as puzzling and (unknowable) as a raindrop of the smile on a child's face." (1977)

He is lovingly remembered by his daughter, Lisa; son-in-law, Don; only grandchild, Olivia; two dearly loved stepsons, Matthew and Alex; and his friends Heran and Tony who were always a family through and through.

-Lisa Perles

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David is also mourned by his beloved sister, Elizabeth, who cared for him during the last most trying weeks of his life. During that time she rediscovered some of his most endearing traits, among them: his  generousity with both individuals and causes; his seeing the best in people and treating everyone as if they were on the same high level of talent and ability that he was; despite his failing health. He is also mourned by Drs. Gail and Harvey Hecht (Amherst Graduate) and by his niece Sherie Barge and her three children. Along with Elizabeth,  Drs. Gail and Harvey Hecht encircled David with love and care in those final weeks.

Your loving sister,
Elizabeth

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This is David at the piano at his home in Los Alamitos followed by one of his paintings.

 

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