Dr. Ira C. Gall, 84; major benefactor of Washington University, Holocaust Museum

Dr. Ira C. Gall

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

Dr Ira C. Gall, who was widely admired for his generous support of Washington University and the St. Louis Holocaust Museum and Learning Center, died Friday, March 29 from complications of pancreatic cancer. He was 84 and a longtime resident of greater St. Louis.

Dr. Gall once said that his charitable activities were inspired by his father, who “instilled the belief that you have an obligation to give back to your community.” Dr. Gall’s of 60 years, Judith (Pushin) Gall was actively involved in and supportive of her husband’s many philanthropic endeavors, which included strong support for the Jewish Federation of St. Louis and its annual campaign.


A profile of Dr. Gall that appeared in the Washington University publication My Washington in the spring of 2005, noted, “The Washington University School of Medicine and the St. Louis Holocaust Museum are among the many St. Louis institutions touched by Ira and Judith Gall. An integral part of the community they’ve come to love—Ira as a physician and founder of Medicine Shoppe International and Judith as a volunteer—their commitment to the area started in 1952 during Ira’s medical residency and has continued to grow over the last 50 years.”

The Galls were natives of Cincinnati, where he was born on May 13, 1928. Dr. Gall earned his medical degree from the University of Cincinnati in 1951, and accepted a residency in obstetrics and gynecology with Washington University’s School of Medicine at Barnes Hospital (now Barnes-Jewish). His residency was interrupted when Dr. Gall was drafted. The Galls spent two years at the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton, Ohio, before returning to St. Louis in 1954.

Recalled Judith Gall, “We thought we would only stay in St. Louis a few years. We didn’t know anyone here, and our families were in Cincinnati. Our grandparents were friends and knowing we went to the same high school, they wanted us to date. Finally we went out.” The couple married in 1952.

Upon returning to St. Louis the second time, Judith Gall was employed at Jewish Hospital, working with people arriving from Europe who had been displaced by World War II. She left that position to raise the couples’ three sons. Many years later, the stories of the heroism and courage of the refugees Judith Gall met inspired the founding of the St. Louis Holocaust Museum and Learning Center.

Following his residency, Dr. Gall began a fellowship at the Washington University School of Medicine in the field of infertility, which at the time was a subspecialty of gynecology. He worked for a time with the late Dr. William Masters, who was a pioneer in infertility and professor of clinical obstetrics and gynecology before pursuing his celebrated career with his colleague Virginia Johnson, on human sexuality.

In 1957, Dr. Gall entered private practice with the late Dr. Mitchell Yanow, professor emeritus of obstetrics and gynecology at the Washington University School of Medicine. Gall became vice chief of staff and a member of the board at St. John’s Mercy Hospital (now Mercy), and he remained on the faculty of the School of Medicine, where he retired as a professor of obstetrics and gynecology. He retired from private practice in 1952.

In 1970, Drs. Gall and Yanow founded Medicine Shoppe International, Inc., a chain of independently owned franchised pharmacies that handle prescriptions and medical supplies. It began with 15 pharmacies and by 1995, when it was purchased by Cardinal Health, Inc., it was the largest franchiser of independent pharmacies in the nation. In 1991, Gall and Yanow were named “Master Entrepreneurs of the Year” by Ernst & Young, Inc. magazine and Merill Lynch Business Financial Services.

The Galls major support of Washington University and its School of Medicine drew praise from James R. Schreiber, the Elaine and Mitchell Yanow Professor and head of obstetrics and gynecology at the medical school. “Ira and Judith Gall have been true friends of Washington University. They have provided resources to improve our academic programs,” he said.

In addition to their many other causes, the Galls established scholarships at the Miriam School and the Scholarship Foundation of St. Louis, and in 1998 they endowed the Ira C. and Judith Gall Professorship of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Washington University School of Medicine. Dr. Gall was a life member of the Temple Israel board of directors.

In addition to his wife, survivors include sons Thomas and Steven. A third son, Jeffrey Scott Gall, predeceased his parents. A scholarship was set up by the Galls in his memory.

Funeral services were held Tuesday, April 2 at Congregation Temple Israel, where Rabbi Amy Feder officiated. Private entombment was at the New Mount Sinai Cemetery Mausoleum.

Memorial gifts may be given to the Jeffrey Scott Gall Memorial Tribute Fund, Miriam Foundation, 501 Beacon Avenue, St. Louis, Mo.  63119. www.miriamfoundation.org.