Dr. Herbert Chessin, a pioneer in obstetrics and gynecology in Nassau County, died Nov. 25 of natural causes. He was 95.
There were few places Chessin went without being recognized by the myriad patients he cared for over the years — from restaurants in New York City, a hotel lobby in Hong Kong, on an airplane, even on the busy streets of London — his family said.
Chessin helped organize the first gynecology and obstetrics department at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City with Alan Guttmacher, renowned gynecologist and birth-control advocate, before opening a solo practice on Long Island in 1953, according to his family.
At that time, health insurance was not typical, which prompted Chessin to set his own fee scale, his family said.
“He asked the husband, or working spouse, their weekly salary and doubled it,” said eldest son, Robert Chessin, a pediatrician in Bridgeport, Connecticut. “If they couldn’t pay it, he asked them to pay whatever they could.”
Chessin was a founding member of North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset and Long Island Jewish-Hillside Medical Center in New Hyde Park.
Chessin, who retired as an obstetrician in 1992, delivered more than 14,000 babies over a 44-year career. He kept working as a gynecologist until officially retiring in 1998.
Robert Chessin said his father saw medicine as more of a calling than a profession. “The happiest part was bringing babies to life,” Robert said.
A graduate of Vanderbilt University Medical School in 1945, the elder Chessin served as a physician in U.S. Army Veterans Administration hospitals during World War II.
Chessin married Sylvia Kottler in 1945, with whom he had three sons, and settled in Great Neck. After his wife’s death in 1979, Chessin married Judie Bergman Friedberg, now Chessin, a part-time travel agent who survives him.
“He was meticulous. He always checked that everything was the way it should be,” Judie Chessin said.
The two traveled extensively, and her husband was an avid photographer, his wife said. “He never used a digital [camera],” she said, noting some of his photos still hang on hospital walls.
A neat dresser, “he always exemplified the occasion,” said Judy Marten, a family friend for nearly 30 years.
As a retiree, Chessin took up skiing.
“Although he went on the bunny slopes,” his wife said. “ ‘I’m going to ski here, I’ll meet you later,’ ” he used to say.
Chessin is also survived by two other sons, Stephen Chessin of Mountain View, California, a senior principal software engineer, and Paul Chessin, an attorney in Denver; stepdaughter Linn Citron; five grandchildren; two stepgrandchildren; and five great-grandchildren.
A funeral with military honors was held at Beth Moses Cemetery in West Babylon.