Dr. Lipsitz worked to fight tuberculosis in St. Louis


Dr. Ellis S. Lipsitz, who followed in his late father’s footsteps to become a physician and was part of a group of doctors who helped stamp out tuberculosis in the city of St. Louis, died Wednesday, March 24, 2010, at Sunrise on Clayton in Richmond Heights. He was 90 and had been a longtime resident of Clayton.

Dr. Lipsitz was only 2-years-old when his father, Dr. Samuel Lipsitz, died of an untreatable infection in 1921, which he had acquired after accidentally pricking himself with a needle after treating a patient. The elder Dr. Lipsitz died seven years before the introduction of penicillin, which might have cured him of his infection. The elder Dr. Lipsitz was admired for treating the poor of the city without taking any money.

Dr. Ellis S. Lipsitz was born in St. Louis, the youngest of three boys. He graduated from Soldan High School, Yale University and the St. Louis University Medical School.

During World War II, Dr. Ellis served in the Philippines as chief psychiatrist.

Following the war, Dr. Lipsitz, again following his late father’s example, joined a team of local physicians seeking to eradicate tuberculosis, which continued as a major community health problem.

At Koch Hospital, Dr. Lipsitz specialized in chest diseases, including tuberculosis, and was in charge of a ward at the facility.

Dr. Lipsitz was described as having been “remarkably kind and gentle, who cured a lot of people and was beloved by his patients,” by Dr. Irving Schultz of Clayton, who worked with him.

Dr. Lipsitz used hypnosis as one of his treatment options, believing that many illnesses have psychological causes. Among his earliest hypnosis successes was his daughter, Suzy, when she was 8. “He stopped me from sucking my thumb,” Susan Cornblet of University City said. Dr. Lipsitz also trained his daughter in self-hypnosis, which enabled her to avoid drugs during the delivery of her two children.

One of Dr. Lipsitz’s sons, Dr. David Lipsitz of Olivette, offered another example of how similar his father was to his grandfather. He noted that like Dr. Samuel Lipsitz, Dr. Ellis Lipsitz would not accept fees from needy patients, who sometimes paid with food or hand-fashioned baskets. “He never knew his father, but he ended up being just like him,” David Lipsitz said.

Dr. Lipsitz was married for 66 years to the late Edith May Lipsitz, who died in 2008. They were members of Temple Israel.

Survivors, in addition to his son David and daughter Susan Cornblet, include another daughter, Judy Capes of Clayton; another son, Dr. Thomas Lipsitz of Chesterfield, 11 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

Funeral services were held the Sunday following his death at Berger Memorial Chapel. Burial was private.

The family suggests memorial contributions to the Alzheimer’s Association, 9370 Olive Boulevard, St. Louis, Mo. 63132, or to a charity of choice.