By Betty Nelander
March 1, 2015–Dr. Sanford Kuvin, known for his civic involvement in Palm Beach and as a leading researcher in infectious and tropical diseases, died Saturday, Feb 28, 2015. He was 85.
“He was a strong and wonderful man,” said his daughter, Jeanette Kuvin Oren, of New Haven, Conn., “and we are going to relive the good times (in our memories) for as long as we can.”
Dr. Kuvin, who practiced internal medicine and cardiology but who never spent a day in the hospital himself, died at his home in Palm Beach. He had lived here since 1965.
Oren recalled that when she was growing up her father “was sort of a fixture around town.” Sometimes she’d hop on the back of his motorcycle when he made house calls to Palm Beachers. He had an office on Royal Palm Way.
“He was a popular physician,” Oren said. “He was the doctor to Marjorie Merriweather Post and to the movie stars who came to town. He once treated Hank Aaron but didn’t realize it … until it was too late to ask for an autograph.”
He was a prolific writer of letters to the editor on issues such as erosion. “He cares very much that it should never become Palm Beach-less,” Oren said. “He felt very passionate about that. We always tease him because his name is Sandy.”
Town Council President Pro Tem Richard Kleid sat through many meetings listening to Dr. Kuvin address beach issues.
“He was an advocate for coastal management who always came in with extensive research to support his position,” Kleid said. “His knowledge will be missed.”
North End resident Connie Gasque worked alongside Dr. Kuvin for years fighting beach erosion, inlet expansion and other coastal problems.
“Dr. Sanford Kuvin was a wonderful humanitarian and did a great deal for this town that nobody realizes,” she said.
Dr. Kuvin stopped his medical practice in 1984 and became more involved in research at the Sanford F. Kuvin Center for the Study of Infectious and Tropical Diseases, which he founded at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He was a vice chairman of the National Foundation for Infectious and Tropical Diseases, clinical associate professor at the University of Miami School of Medicine, board member at the University of Miami Department of Public Health, and clinical associate at the National Institutes of Health.
He earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Pennsylvania, medical degree from Cambridge University in England, and a diploma from the London School of Tropical Medicine. He was the first to demonstrate use of indirect fluorescent antibody tests for malaria in 1962 at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. He was on the advisory board of the Americans for a Sound HIV/AIDS Policy in Washington and an outspoken advocate for the protection of health care workers and patients with blood-borne diseases. The Kuvin Center has become a leading research center for malaria and other infectious diseases.
He was a former member of the national board of the American Friends of the Hebrew University and a recipient of its Torch of Learning Award. Locally, he founded the Palm Beach chapter of American Friends of Hebrew University.
He was a founding member of Palm Beach Synagogue. “He was known throughout the community as a man of great intelligence, warmth and activism,” said Rabbi Moshe Scheiner, the synagogue’s spiritual leader. “He was a personal friend and mentor to me and my family and guided our synagogue from its inception with great wisdom, strength and confidence.”
He was accomplished musician on flute and clarinet, helping to found the Greater Palm Beach Symphony, Oren said.
He also was an adventurer, who jet-skied until recently, his daughter said. He did helicopter skiing and was a double-black diamond-level skier who skied around the world into his 80s.
Survivors include his wife of 55 years, Gabrielle, of Palm Beach and Israel; his three daughters, Jeanette and her husband, Dan Oren, of New Haven, Conn.; Michele and her husband, Gary Kupfer, of New Haven; Lisa and her husband, Benjamin Schreier, of Palm Beach; and son Jeffrey and his wife, Emily Mathes, of Boston; and 10 grandchildren: Sarah and her husband Michael, Amalyah, Noa, Jeremy, Arielle, Zev, Meital, Sylvie, Eliana and Henry.