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Harold Pelzer, DDS, MD, Honored & Thanked by Roger Ebert’s Wife

Harold Pelzer, DDS, MD, Honored & Thanked by Roger Ebert’s Wife

Cradling a gold “Thumbs Up” statue and full of warm words of gratitude, Chaz Ebert thanked Robert Ebert's surgeon Harold Pelzer, DDS, MD, at Northwestern Memorial Hospital’s annual medical staff meeting for helping to give her and her late husband many happy years.

“Dr. Pelzer, you gave him more years of his broadcast career,” said Mrs. Ebert. “But more than that, you gave him the will to live even after he developed serious complications.” Film critic Roger Ebert died in April after a long battle with thyroid and salivary gland cancer

A member of the Lurie Cancer Center, Dr. Pelzer, is an Associate Professor in Otolaryngology / Head and Neck Surgery at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, received The Gary A. Mecklenburg Award at the breakfast. Presented each year to a physician nominated by his or her peers, the award honors someone who embodies professionalism and humanism and who demonstrates a strong commitment to enriching the lives of others through research, teaching, patient care or community outreach.

Mrs. Ebert praised Dr. Pelzer not only for his skills as a surgeon, but also his compassion and willingness to consider the whole person when treating his patients. “Roger said he was simply one of the finest human beings he had ever met.” The personal touches that came naturally to Dr. Pelzer while he cared for Mr. Ebert were some of the most important moments for the Eberts. Dr. Pelzer came into Mr. Ebert’s hospital room one day and handed him a mirror at his request, Mrs. Ebert recalled. “Roger didn’t like what he saw, and you shaved his face yourself, which made him say that he looked better.”

The day before Mr. Ebert passed away, he wrote a letter to Dr. Pelzer. Dr. Pelzer had stopped by to visit, but Mr. Ebert was sleeping. “He had so looked forward to that visit,” Mrs. Ebert said. “The note said, ‘Dr. Pelzer, I am trapped inside.’ He told me what he meant by that was that his limitations had grown to be too much and his spirit was bigger than his limitations. He was ready.”

Accepting the Mecklenburg Award, Dr. Pelzer said it was a privilege for him to play a part in Mr. and Mrs. Ebert’s journey. “You fully appreciate the toll having that type of cancer takes on a family,” he told Mrs. Ebert. “You and Roger handled a terrible disease with grace and dignity.”

(Last updated on July 1, 2013 )