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Physician Zimmerman ‘was a true gentleman’

Longtime Altoona Hospital doctor recalled for caring nature, faith

A caring physician who was well liked, well read and had a great sense of humor is being remembered as a leader in both the medical and Jewish communities.

Dr. A. Leonard Zimmerman, 88, of Altoona, died Thursday, Jan. 13.

Zimmerman retained board certification as an ear, nose and throat specialist from 1963 until his retirement.

He was an active staff member at Altoona Regional Health System (now UPMC Altoona) in the department of specialized surgery from June 1969 to July 2007. At one point during his career, he served as chief of staff at ARHS.

“He was one of the most caring physicians I’ve ever met. He was a true gentleman in all regards both professionally and personally,” said Ron McConnell, former chief operating officer at UPMC Altoona.

“He was a leader with our medical staff; he was a leader and a very compassionate man. I don’t know anyone who didn’t admire him. He was an excellent physician,” McConnell said.

“He was well liked, genuine, well read, had a great sense of humor, adventuresome, a great athlete, a gentle man highly respected by his patients and the medical community. Nothing was more important to him than his family,” said longtime close friend Neil Port. “His patients and staff loved him — the entire medical community loved him.”

William Wallen, former executive director of the Greater Altoona Jewish Federation, said Zimmernan was an even-tempered, pleasant, steady and thoughtful leader.

“He was able to bring together groups of people like the medical staff. He worked with physicians and the administrative staff, which wasn’t easy,” Wallen said. “He had the ability to gain the respect of specialists and the administration to work for the betterment of the hospital by bringing together these groups.”

Zimmerman was active in numerous Jewish organizations for many years.

“In Judaism, we are expected to show our faith through good deeds and acts of kindness.” Wallen said. “Len was representative of that. He really served his whole community. He lived a life of service and he involved himself in many things. In each area, he was a leader and took and accepted a leadership role.”

With the Jewish Federation, Zimmerman chaired the Jewish Film Festival committee.

“He worked to ensure we had good quality films that were for both the Jewish and the whole community,” he added.

Zimmerman was a member of both Agudath Achim Synagogue and Temple Beth Israel.

Wallen said not many people were active in both, but Zimmerman was a very loyal member of both congregations.

“You could always count on him when asked to do anything. He was a willing member and would follow through and do it in a friendly, productive way. He was a real likable guy,” Wallen said.

A private funeral service will be held at the convenience of the family.

Mirror Staff Writer Walt Frank is at 814-946-7467.

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