When Dr. William H. Bloom was a military surgeon in El Paso, Texas, in the 1950s, he crossed the border one day into Mexico to watch a bullfight.

Bloom liked what he saw and later decided to take a few bullfighting lessons, becoming an amateur matador, said his son, Jonathan Bloom of Great River.

A military magazine ran a story about him with the headline "Dr. Bullfighter." His stint as a matador ended, though, after he suffered a finger injury, his son said.

Bloom, a longtime Bay Shore resident who went on to become a noted neurosurgeon on Long Island and president of the Suffolk County Medical Society, died on Sept. 19. He was 87.

He had a distinguished medical career, yet could easily converse with anyone. In his later years, he became a regular at Winnie's Coffee Shop in Bay Shore, where he regaled friends with personal stories, his son said.

"He wasn't an erudite, aloof professional. He was someone who could relate well to the average person" as well as to scholarly intellectuals, Jonathan Bloom said.

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William Bloom grew up in upstate New York and graduated from high school as a 15-year-old valedictorian, his son said. He attended junior college and then went into a Navy-sponsored V-12 program for top students, allowing him to graduate from Union College in Schenectady at 18.

The Navy then sent him to the University of Buffalo Medical School. During the Korean War, he served in military hospitals in El Paso and San Diego.

Afterward, he entered private practice, including an office in upstate Lake Luzerne where many of his patients were poor. Some paid him with chickens and eggs, his son said. In the late 1950s, he was selected for one-year fellowships to study neurology in London and in Sweden.

In 1961, he relocated to Long Island, where he became one of the area's few neurosurgeons. He performed most of his operations at Southside Hospital in Bay Shore and Good Samaritan Hospital in West Islip.

Bloom later wrote a book about some of his medical experiences. Titled "After All, It's Only Brain Surgery," it recounted such cases as one in which a nurse told him a 9-year-old girl who had suffered a skull fracture had stopped breathing and appeared dead. Bloom rushed the girl into surgery, saving her life.

Other survivors include a son, Dr. Jeffrey Bloom of California; two daughters; and 10 grandchildren. Following a private service, burial was Sept. 22 in the Agudath Achim cemetery in East Setauket next to his wife of 49 years, Barbara.