N. Harry Gartzman, 94, physician

N. Harry Gartzman playing the piano at 93 at the Philadelphian after recovering from a stroke.
N. Harry Gartzman playing the piano at 93 at the Philadelphian after recovering from a stroke. (CLEM MURRAY / Staff Photographer)
Posted: December 21, 2013

N. Harry Gartzman, 94, of Philadelphia, a family physician who spent 23 years as chief physician for Camden schools, died Tuesday, Dec. 17, at Kennedy University Hospital-Cherry Hill.

Music provided the theme to his life, with him asking for piano lessons at age 8 and playing at a saloon in Camden by 14. Graduating from Camden High School as valedictorian in 1937, Dr. Gartzman played parties to pay his tuition at the University of Pennsylvania, from which he received his bachelor's degree in 1941. He then did graduate study in 1941-42 and 1947-48, according to an obituary provided by the family.

Those studies were interrupted when Dr. Gartzman went to war, serving as a chemist in the Army in New Guinea, the Philippines, and Japan.

In 1952, Dr. Gartzman received his doctor of osteopathic medicine degree from the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, graduating first in his class.

He played his way through that degree, too, switching among clarinet, saxophone, and piano at nightclubs.

Dr. Gartzman opened a private practice in the Cramer Hill neighborhood of Camden, with an open-door policy for patients, based on his philosophy, his family said, "that people do not get sick by appointment."

In 1980, after 27 years in Camden, Dr. Gartzman moved to practice in Pennsauken for an additional 18 years.

He was a physician for Camden schools from 1953 to 1971, then spent 23 years as chief school physician.

Dr. Gartzman was active in the Jewish community, becoming president of his synagogue, Congregation Beth Israel, in Camden, and vice president of the Jewish Federation of Southern New Jersey, as well as serving in other leadership roles at area organizations.

An avid traveler who visited 81 countries and made 32 visits to Israel, Dr. Gartzman continued to play his music right through to his life's coda.

A stroke in June 2012 initially frustrated him, but he fought to recover his ability to play the music he so loved.

"The fact that I was able to gradually, objectively notice, observe, improvement - that was priceless," Dr. Gartzman told The Inquirer in a profile last December. "I began to realize, 'God, I'm going to be OK.' Sitting at the keyboard and playing became an objective measure of my progress and prognosis."

By the end of last year, he was back at the piano, playing at the Christmas concert in the lobby of the Philadelphian, the condominium where he lived for many years.

He is survived by daughters Sarah Sclafani and Francine Hinchey, a sister, a brother, eight grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.

After a 45-minute viewing, funeral services will begin at 10:30 a.m. Friday, Dec. 20, at Platt Memorial Chapels, at 2001 Berlin Rd., Cherry Hill. Entombment will follow at Roosevelt Memorial Park, Trevose.

Shivah will be observed at the home of Carol Gartzman Gooberman and Bruce Gooberman.


jlai@phillynews.com

856-779-3220

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