Amherst Magazine
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SETH ULRIC THALER (1937-1997)

Our class produced many eminent physicians, and the careers of most led toward greater administrative responsibility, specialization and large medical institutions. Seth Thaler, a graduate of Riverdale Country Day School and a member of Phi Gamma Delta, followed a somewhat different path.

Seth received his medical degree from Yale. From 1967-1975 he was assistant professor of Otolaryngology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine. For 19 years after that, Seth was affiliated with Arden Hill Hospital, rising to the position of medical director, and had a private ear, nose and throat practice in Goshen, N.Y. He was a fellow of the American College of Surgeons and the American Association of Otolaryngologists.

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Upon his death in 1997, adult friends and colleagues remembered him with glowing adult words: brilliant, caring, warm, down-to-earth, devoted. But it was children who worshipped him, the Goshen “country” doctor who treated thousands of youngsters’ earaches and infected tonsils.

Three of Seth’s little patients had their mothers shave their heads before a trip to see the doctor, just so they could look like him. Perhaps it was his casual, down-to-earth style that drew so many to him. Known for his uniform of blue jeans and sports jacket at the office and hospital, he was a man who “didn’t have to establish his stature through clothing.”

The common consensus was that his death “was a sudden disaster for the hospital, for his family, for the community. He was a defender of faith in the medical community.”

He was a defender of faith in the medical community.”

His contributions went beyond the practice of medicine. “He was always an idea man,” the president of Arden Hill Hospital said at the time. And it was Seth who urged his colleagues to expand their volunteer work to include free or low-cost medical care. When he died, he was working to enlist medical staff to donate time to a camp for terminally ill kids.

Seth’s son, Mark, is an architect, who lives with his wife, Sharon, in Manhattan. Seth’s granddaughter, Hannah, was barely 1 year old at the time of his death, yet she still has memories of “Grandpa Seth.” She is now almost 11 and is already an accomplished artist and a published poet (her poem "I Know That Is, But What Am I?" received an award of high merit and was published in 2006 in an anthology of poems from schoolchildren from all over New York State). Seth’s grandson, Sam, was born after his death and turned 7 in September 2007. Sam is a dedicated student and loves to play soccer and baseball.

Seth’s daughter, Lisa ’87, is a New York psychoanalyst specializing in eating disorders. A second marriage to Kathleen produced a son, Jesse, who was an infant at Seth’s death. Mark says Seth would have been a very proud grandfather and would have had special relationships with his grandchildren.

Seth Ulric Thaler succumbed to a massive heart attack Aug. 20, 1997, in Goshen, N.Y.

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“… it was children who worshipped him.”

Does anyone need more proof?

 

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