A Loving Tribute to
Gerald Nissenbaum, M.D.
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Memorial for Gerald Nissenbaum, M.D. and Presentation of Portrait
Jersey City Medical Center, June 20, 2003

Remarks by Robert Nissenbaum at his father’s unveiling:

I have come to realize that dad is such a part of my life.  The things he taught me about common sense and the ways of the world: he was very straight with me.

Over this past year, many times, I found myself saying, what would dad do in this situation, and I get my answer to many daily dilemmas.

As is the case, in everyone’s life, we function in many different environments with a variety of people. Dad did this. He was a doctor, plumber, handyman and architect. He was versed in many different topics. Most of all, he was a friend to everyone.

After hearing tapes of him at the hospital, I realized he was an excellent teacher to his residents and he knew how to keep them interested. He seemed to hold their attention, since his lectures were always lively.

From my standpoint, as a father, he taught me a lot. He was always interested in what I was doing; with hobbies and interests such as cars, computers, wildlife, fishing, plumbing and home repair.

He instilled in me a quality he possessed which is to help others when you can, especially when you can show someone how to do something.

He taught me to look at the job before I do it, not to be afraid to take on a challenge, but be practical; if it is too difficult, don’t get in over your head. He showed me the importance of being orderly.

In fact, many of the tools and hardware I was given from his collection have specific instructions, such as pull from here, use this side first, etc.

He even became interested in the computer auction scene. My wife, Andrea, told him she was buying and selling items on E-bay, a computer internet auction site. He decided he wanted to do this too. He and my wife would spend hours on the phone discussing how they would list an item in order to get the most interest. They sold some items and made some money, but more importantly, Andrea and he developed an even closer bond, working together on this fun project, which they both enjoyed.

Similarly, we would spend much time discussing how I was going to fix something around the house, what materials I would need, and many times, he would draw a very detailed diagram, explaining what to do.

He was an animal lover and animals took to him. Our first cat, fat cat, followed him into the house, as a small kitten.  Our calico cat would jump up on the table and rub against his arm and purr. She did not do this for everyone. In fact, she would run away from most people.

One thing he would say about small children is “i don’t get involved with them until they are older.” I think this was one thing he said which he did not mean, since every time he saw my son Ryan, he would hold him and they would smile at each other.

As a child, growing up, there were many things I didn’t want to learn, such as how to swim, tie a knot, windsurf, sail or fix a toilet. These are things one may not want to learn as a child, but appreciate as an adult.

At age seventeen, I wanted to drive a car, like any other teen. After passing the driving test, dad still felt that I was a “steerer” not a “driver” and said I needed more practice, a decision, to this day, I believe, saved my and possibly other’s lives.

One thing I have realized over the past year is he has helped to give me confidence to try and not to give up easily. I know this is one of the reasons his patients trusted him and doctors respected him.

I believe he is very proud of me and everyone else he has touched, and if I can be even half the person he was, I will be successful


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