Barry S. Wilderman, 66, anesthesiologist

Barry S. Wilderman
Barry S. Wilderman
Posted: July 31, 2013

Barry S. Wilderman, 66, of Philadelphia, an anesthesiologist, died Saturday, July 27, of respiratory failure at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.

Dr. Wilderman worked from 1982 to 2001 at North Penn Hospital as chief of the anesthesiology department, said his son Michael J., a vascular surgeon.

He slowed down, practicing mostly at surgical centers in the last five years, but never really retired, his son said.

What drew Dr. Wilderman to the specialty was his enjoyment of people, his love of the subtleties of pharmacology, and the challenge of keeping the patient's heart, lungs, and other systems going under tricky surgical conditions, his son said.

An engaging, jovial man, Dr. Wilderman had a softer side that he used to soothe those facing surgery, his son said. His would be the last voice they heard when they went under on the operating table, and the first when they came to in the recovery room.

His son likened his father's role to that of an airplane captain when passengers fear flying: "It would be like, 'I'll do everything I can to make sure it's a gentle and pleasant flight.' "

Born in Northeast Philadelphia, Dr. Wilderman graduated from Central High School in 1964 at the top of his class. He won the Latin and chemistry prizes for the highest test scores his senior year, said Dennis Cogan, a Philadelphia defense lawyer and Dr. Wilderman's friend since third grade.

"He was - and I am not exaggerating this - a genius," Cogan said. "He graduated second in his class at medical school."

Dr. Wilderman earned a bachelor's degree in biochemistry from Temple University with honors in 1968, and a medical degree from Temple in 1972. He was elected to Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society.

Dr. Wilderman stayed at Temple for a residency in anesthesiology, culminating in his being named chief resident from 1972 to 1976.

He served a fellowship in pediatric anesthesiology and critical care at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia before a two-year hitch in the Army, ending in 1978. He was discharged with the rank of major.

The bulk of his career was spent as chief of anesthesiology at North Penn Hospital in Lansdale, now part of Abington Health.

At various times, he lived in Dresher, Ambler, and, finally, Center City.

In person, Dr. Wilderman was a natural jokester and entertainer who had the ability to make newcomers feel as if they had known him for years. He forged friendships easily and stayed in touch.

"At my house in Longport, when we were in our cups, Barry could sing every lyric of every doo-wop song he ever heard," Cogan said. "He was everything you would ever want in a lifelong friend. Life will never be the same for any of us without him."

Dr. Wilderman and his wife, the former Elaine Myers, met on a blind date and married in 1969. He was devoted to family, including that of his daughter-in-law, Aurielle Shatz Wilderman.

Surviving, besides his wife and son, is another son, David L.

Services will be at 1 p.m. Tuesday, July 30, at Goldsteins' Rosenberg's Raphael-Sacks, 6410 N. Broad St. Interment will be in Montefiore Cemetery, Jenkintown.

Contact Bonnie L. Cook at 610-313-8102 or

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