Dr. Benje Boonshaft, 76; physician, former Blues internist

Dr. Benje Boonshaft

BY ROBERT A. COHN, Editor-in-Chief Emeritus

Dr. Benje Boonshaft, longtime physician, co-founder of the Willowbrook Medical Center and former internist for the St. Louis Blues Hockey Team, died Sunday, June 24 at Delmar Gardens on the Green. He was 76 and had suffered from Alzheimer’s disease, family members said. He had been a longtime resident of Greater St. Louis.

Dr. Boonshaft was born in St. Louis on Dec. 17, 1935, the son of the late Edward and Helen Ludwig Boonshaft. He graduated from Western Military Academy with the highest honors. At Washington University, he earned his undergraduate degree and his doctor of medicine degree from the Washington University School of Medicine. He did his internship and two years of residency at Jewish Hospital (now Barnes/Jewish).

During the Vietnam War, Dr. Boonshaft served in the U.S. Air Force, and was a captain at the USAF Hospital at Travis Air Force Base in California.

Dr. Boonshaft married the former Joyce Ross on June 14, 1964.  They had three children, Steve Boonshaft and Sherri Boonshaft of St. Louis, and Eric Boonshaft of Charlotte, N.C. They had five grandchildren.

After his military service, Dr. Boonshaft went to Washington, D.C., where he completed a two-year Fellowship in Nephrology at Georgetown University Hospital. After returning to St. Louis, Dr. Boonshaft and Dr. Aaron Birenbaum built and co-founded the Willowbrook Medical Center in Creve Coeur. They also became the internists for the St. Louis Blues Hockey Team.

At one time, Dr. Boonshaft had been on the staffs of Jewish Hospital (now Barnes/Jewish), Missouri Baptist, St. John’s Mercy (now Mercy), St. Luke’s, St. Mary’s, Barnes West and the Veterans Administration Hospital at Jefferson Barracks. He was often a nephrology consultant. He served on the Medical Advisory Board of the St. Louis Kidney Foundation, and was president of the St. Louis Internist Club, president of the Jewish Hospital Alumni Association and associate chief in the Department of Medicine at the Missouri Baptist Medical Center.

Dr. Boonshaft was an assistant professor emeritus of clinical medicine at the Washington University School of Medicine, and was a Fellow in the American College of Physicians.

He was also a Mason and a Shriner, among many other activities.

Dr. Boonshaft was an avid golfer, and realized his dream of playing at the Old Course in St. Andrew’s, Scotland. “It seemed fitting that he spent his last days on earth at a place called Delmar Gardens on the Green,” his wife Joyce Boonshaft said.

Survivors, include, in addition to his wife, three children and five grandchildren, and his sister, Marilyn Price, of St. Louis.

Private funeral services were held at the New Mount Sinai Cemetery.

Memorial contributions in Dr. Boonshaft’s memory preferred to the Alzheimer’s Association (for research only), 9370 Olive Blvd., St. Louis, MO, 63132.