Ronald “Ron” Mendelsohn, M.D. died in his Chapel Hill, N.C., home on Feb. 8, 2021, with his wife and daughter at his side. He was 92 years young.
Dr. Mendelsohn was born on April 27, 1928, in Baltimore, Md., to Joseph Mendelsohn and Mary Norwitz Mendelsohn. He was raised near Druid Hill Park with his sister, Lola Jean.
He attended Baltimore City College, the third oldest high school in the country, and wore their distinct black gold graduation ring with great pride. He graduated from the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy with an award recognizing his 100% grade average in chemistry. In 1953, Ron graduated summa cum laude from the University of Maryland Medical School and began an internship as a lieutenant at the U.S. Naval Hospital in San Diego. He served in both the Navy and the Marines. As a medical officer he was stationed in Yokosuka, Japan, where he taught himself conversational Japanese. Later, he was stationed in Hawaii and, while there, fell in love with spear fishing, a sport he pursued along with tennis for the next 30 years.
Following his military service, he began a residency in surgery at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami, Fla. While there he noticed the more relaxed lifestyle of the anesthesiologists and reconsidered his specialty. He studied anesthesiology at the University of Maryland Hospital where he met and married Joan Fleming. When his residency was complete, he relocated with his new wife to the U.S. Virgin Islands, where he raised a family and practiced medicine for more than 30 years.
Among his projects while in St. Thomas, he joined James and William Evans to establish a Montessori school for their children. He was well known at the St. Thomas Yacht Club as a tennis player and raconteur.
Once his two daughters, Maria Mendelsohn and Alice Mendelsohn, were grown and living in the States, Ron and Joan decided to relocate to Chapel Hill, N.C. He immediately became an avid supporter of all things UNC, but took a special interest in the basketball team.
For the next three and a half decades he enjoyed gardening, hiking and watching sports in St. Thomas, Chapel Hill and his cabin in Hailey. In all three places he had a wide and varied circle of friends who looked forward to his easy smile and rambling stories. For many years, everywhere Ron went he was accompanied by his beloved Jack Russell terrier, Jesse.
He adored and helped raise his triplet grandsons and took any opportunity to brag about their successes and laugh about their mischief. He started a routine on summer Sundays when they were just 3 years old of a “men-only” breakfast at the local diner. This much-loved ritual lasted into their late teen years.
Dr. Ron Mendelsohn is survived by his wife, Joan Mendelsohn of Chapel Hill; his two daughters, Maria Mendelsohn of Wellington, Fla., and Alice Mendelsohn of Chapel Hill; his sister, Lola Jean Rapoport Copeland of Naples, Fla.; and his three grandsons, August, Cole and Max Moore of Chapel Hill. His extended family was large and included his beloved three nieces, their wonderful husbands and children and even grand-nieces and nephews.
Ron credited “his team,” Dr. Carrie Lee, oncologist, Paula Landeman, nurse navigator, and Amber Proctor Cipriani, Pharm D of the UNC Cancer Hospital with his longevity during his five-year battle with cancer.
This summer his family will scatter his ashes at his favorite alpine lake in the Rocky Mountains. In lieu of flowers, please make donations in Ron Mendelsohn’s name to the University of North Carolina Cancer Hospital.