Barry Seymour Kassar, MD, Ophthalmologist — 4.3.2019
SAN DIEGO — Barry Seymour Kassar, a retired San Diego ophthalmologist and an active member in the Jewish community died here on Wednesday, April 3. He was 76.
Dr. Kassar moved to La Jolla in 1981 and opened his ophthalmic practice at Scripps Memorial hospital two years later. He saw patients and performed surgeries there until retiring in 2002. During his tenure, he served as head of the Mericos Eye Institute. He was loved by his patients, hospital and office staff— and respected for his integrity.
Kassar graduated from the University of Cape Town Medical School in 1965, after which he married Avra Sebba. He completed his internship at Tel Hashomer Hospital in Israel, where he cared for patients during and after the Six Day War. The family returned to Cape Town where he specialized in ophthalmology, opening a private practice.
In 1977, with three boys in tow, they emigrated to the United States. Kassar worked for two years as an Associate Professor at the Pennsylvania State University Hershey Medical Center. In 1979 the family moved again as he was recruited by the Louisiana State University Eye Center in New Orleans. During this time he prepared for and completed his licensing requirements to practice medicine in the US.
Kassar became actively involved in the local Jewish community. He served on the board of the San Diego Jewish Academy, chaired and sang in the San Diego Jewish Men’s Choir, was the Ritual Chairman at Congregation Beth El and in later years joined Congregation Adat Yeshurun. At Adat Yeshurun he arranged for, recruited, and fundraised for a leading Israeli liturgical choir to visit and sing during the Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur services. The tradition still continues to this day.
Kassar was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2008. In the last 11 years, his will to live became deeply apparent to those around him. He addressed his cancer with tenacity. He built a team of physicians who cared for him formally and informally. He was aggressive, scientific and non-stop as he countered his disease. He underwent 23 surgeries, multiple rounds of chemotherapy, radiation and three immunotherapy trials, traveling weekly to UCLA for treatment.
Finally, he returned home to Scripps Memorial Hospital. He continued to gather detailed information and make careful decisions about his own care surrounded by his family and a team he trusted and knew both professionally and as friends for decades. Finally, he made the decision to go in peace. And he did, surrounded by his wife and his three children.
Barry Kassar fought for 11 years to be here with his family. He is survived by his wife of 53 years, Avra Kassar, his three sons, Barak and his wife Kristin, Arel and Dorian of San Francisco; Ami and his wife Bethany, Samuel and Charlotte of Philadelphia; Yoni and his wife Lori, Mila and Judah of Los Angeles; and his brother Julius of Cincinnati and sister Ziona of London.
May his memory be a blessing.