Jack Sherman, pediatrician, geneticist and World War II veteran, died earlier this month from heart failure. He was 87.

The son of Eastern European immigrants, he grew up in Bayonne, New Jersey, with a brother and sister and went to medical school in New Orleans, but settled on Long Island where he spent much of his career practicing medicine at Nassau University Medical Center in East Meadow, which had previously been the Nassau County Medical Center.

An early fascination with insects and animals convinced him that he would become a veterinarian or work in the circus as an animal trainer, but World War II altered those dreams.

See alsoWar stories: LIers recall D-DayExploreNYers who died in World War II

"I enlisted into the Navy and became a 'hospital corpsman,' the track that eventually steered me into a medical career," Sherman wrote in a 2007 article in the American Academy of Pediatrics' newsletter for senior members. "I did become a doctor, after all. However, I continued to have vague ideas about becoming a veterinarian."

After serving stateside during the war, he went to Tulane University for both undergraduate studies and medical school, which he completed in 1953.

He settled in Bethpage and built his medical practice but he never lost his love of the animal kingdom.

advertisement | advertise on newsday

"We used to have lots of dogs," said daughter Sue Spiewak, who lives in East Brunswick, New Jersey. She said they also had a kinkajou, a rain forest mammal that looks similar to a monkey, and snakes. Their Bethpage home was "a little menagerie," she said.

Though his professional life was focused on his medical practice, cancer research and genetics, he had a rich cultural life that included making sculptures.

"He did beautiful things in wire," Spiewak said. He worked in wood and wax, mostly realistic sculptures of people, but he also made animal mobiles, she said.

@Newsday

He also had a teasing sense of humor. When his son, Seth, who later became a radiologist, was doing work in college at a primate research center, he sent his son an identification band.

"I jokingly told him that the bracelet would help his co-workers tell him apart from the other primates," Sherman wrote in the American Academy of Pediatrics' senior newsletter. When Sherman later completed training to become a volunteer guide at the Central Park Zoo, he received a package from his son. "The box contained a similar ID bracelet for me to wear," he wrote.

His first marriage ended in divorce, and in 2007 he married Carolann La Sala, who took his last name.

"He was the love of my life," she said. The two traveled internationally together and enjoyed entertaining in their Huntington home, she said.

"He was just such a fun guy and always available to help anyone in need, especially the young people that were coming up that wanted to be physicians," she said.

advertisement | advertise on newsday

A memorial service for Sherman, who died May 5 at a hospice facility in Melville, was held in Woodbury.

In addition to his wife, daughter and son, who lives in Thomasville, Georgia, he is survived by his brother, Gerald Sherman of Elmwood Park, New Jersey, and four grandchildren.