Dr. Saul Jeck, the Philadelphia obstetrician/gynecologist who delivered more than 13,000 babies and taught countless students to do the same, died on June 16 at his home in Elkins Park. He was 90.
Jeck “graduated from South Philadelphia High School in 1949, the University of Pennsylvania in 1953 and the Des Moines College of Osteopathic Medicine in 1957,” according to a death notice published in the Jewish Exponent on June 17. He went on to a 60-year career in his chosen field.
The Jewish OB/GYN, who belonged to Reform Congregation Keneseth Israel and Congregation Adath Jeshurun in Elkins Park, cared for women in Northeast Philadelphia from 1965-1990. In 1990, he became chairman of the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine’s Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. He also led PCOM’s OB/GYN residency program, which he expanded from four candidates to almost 30.
The doctor who was always on call did not wish to slow down just because he was turning 60.
“When you talk to people, they don’t talk about his skill as a doctor. They talk about his demeanor,” said Jeck’s son Daniel Jeck, a lawyer who lives in Lafayette Hill. “They’ll tell you he was a compassionate, kind, very humorous person that made people feel good.”
Daniel Jeck, 55, called his father “one of the hardest-working people I’ve ever met.” The OB/GYN would work all day, take a call at night, go deliver two or three babies in the middle of the night and then see patients the next morning.
The father and son would be out together on the weekends, running errands or eating lunch at Roy Rogers. Then Jeck would get beeped and race off.
He told his son they were going to the hospital. When they got there, Jeck did what he had to do, and then went home with his son.
“You knew something pretty important and cool was happening,” Daniel Jeck said.
On one occasion, when Daniel was 14 or 15, he finally got to see it. At the hospital, Jeck put his son in a gown and invited him into the delivery room.
“He was like Superman,” the son said.
Through his intimate role, the OB/GYN built a deep connection with patients. Over his years in practice, he became a sort of local celebrity.
When he was in the mall shopping with Daniel, his wife Sheila Ann and their other son Charles, Jeck was often stopped by two or three people. The same thing would happen on the beach. According to Dara Jeck, Daniel Jeck’s wife of 25 years, the doctor’s PCOM students would run across the sand shouting, “Dr. Jeck!”
Fifteen years ago, Daniel Jeck was interviewing a secretarial candidate for his law office. The woman told him she knew his last name because of his father. The OB/GYN had delivered both of her babies.
When Dara Jeck was giving birth to the first of her own two children, two people walked into her hospital room. They asked if Jeck was around. They had heard that a Jeck was in one of the rooms.
Later in his career, the doctor got angry that he had to turn his back on patients to enter data into a computer.
“He didn’t want to turn his back for any second on anybody,” Dara Jeck said.
Jeck “got a kick out of being well-known,” according to his son. Daniel Jeck said his father “had an ego, but it was a really healthy ego.”
Superman was also just a man. He sometimes complained about being on call all the time. But it also energized him. The doctor chose medicine over playing the violin and, as an adult, the instrument became his only hobby.
When he was not working, he tried to be with the family that he created with his wife of 64 years. As Jeck grew older, just as his career took on a second act at PCOM, his family life did, too, as he became a grandfather of four. The Jecks hosted the family at their apartment in Margate, New Jersey, and when the grandkids would arrive, grandpa would immediately say, “Let’s go to Lucy (the Elephant)!”
“I would say, ‘We just got here,’” Dara Jeck recalled, laughing.
But they went anyway and came home with Lucy sweatshirts and faces stained with water ice.
One day in late June, Dara Jeck was at her father-in-law’s house to clean it out when she ran into his neighbor. The woman told her he was “such a great man.” JE