Albert Einstein once said, "Strive not to be a success but rather to be of value." As a devoted physician, teacher, and mentor, Joel Felsher, MD, clearly lived by this principle.
It is fitting that this advice offered by Einstein appears on the plaque that adorns a garden recently dedicated in the doctor's memory. The Felsher Inspiration Garden at the University Medical Center of Princeton was donated by Princeton residents Louise and John Steffens as part of their generous gift during the Design for Healing campaign to support the new hospital building project. The garden pays tribute to Dr. Felsher, who died in May 2012, leaving behind a legacy of compassionate care and mentorship.
Following his chief residency at Kings County Hospital in Brooklyn, NY, Dr. Felsher established a well-respected internal medicine practice serving the Princeton community from 1963 until his retirement in 1994. During this time, he was also a member of the teaching staff of the Medical Center at Princeton-as it was known at that time-helping countless medical students perfect their clinical skills
"Joel was passionate about everything he did, be it helping a patient or friend, teaching, or spending time with family. He brought keen intellect, a critical eye, and a warm heart to every endeavor," Beryl Felsher reflected on her husband of 52 years. "He would go the extra mile for a patient in need, sometimes forgoing a fee for his services for those who were financially challenged, just to ensure they got the treatment they needed. I am deeply touched that the Steffenses would honor Joel's service by dedicating this garden in his memory. He would have loved it and would have been very proud."
Located at the west entrance to the hospital, the garden features a variety of plantings surrounding a sculpture by Brooklyn artist Boaz Vaadia, which serves as the centerpiece of the garden. The sculpture, Amaryahu with Cat(pictured above), made of bronze, basalt, and bluestone, creates a whimsical yet serene focal point."
During the planning for the garden, John and I looked at a lot of sculptures, but this one spoke to us," said Mrs. Steffens during a recent viewing of the piece. It turns out that the selection of the sculpture was quite serendipitous. "During a day trip in Aix-en-Provence several years ago," Mrs. Felsher recalled, "Joel sat on a bench while I went to look at something, and when I returned, a cat was sitting next to him on the bench." It was a brief, now seemingly prescient moment depicted by the Vaadia sculpture.
Visitors to the hospital can view the garden and sculpture just outside the entrances to the George and Estelle Sands Center for Cardiac and Pulmonary Care and the Center for Neuroscience Care along the hospital's atrium, and patients visiting other portals of care will be able to look down the atrium and be reassured by the garden. It provides yet another space in the hospital where patients, families, and staff can find respite and renewal through nature and art.
"Joel inspired many and was a great resource not only for patients but also for other physicians," said Mrs. Steffens. "We have donated this garden in honor of a great doctor and an amazing friend."
Many contributors help Princeton HealthCare System (PHCS) provide its excellent and essential services through tribute gifts. There are plenty of opportunities to honor the memory of family, friends, physicians, and staff through memorial gifts to PHCS Foundation. For more information, contact the Foundation at 609.252.8710 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pictured above: Amaryahu with Cat (bronze, basalt, and bluestone) by Boaz Vaadia.
Article as seen in Foundation News Winter 2014.