Opinion

AN APPRECIATION: Swampscott obstetrician Charles L. Blander served North Shore community for 52 years

There is something to be said for working in the community in which you live. Dr. Charles L. Blander practiced obstetrics and gynecology 52 years on the North Shore and every day was a labor of love for him.

Dr. Blander, 83, died at his home in Swampscott late last month. And his son, Dr. Daniel Blander reflected earlier this week on a life dedicated to his patients — and not just medically.

“He loved the idea of having patients that he saw for a long period of time,” said Daniel Blander, a urologist who practices in Beverly. “He would see people, help them through incredibly joyful periods of their lives, and then follow them throughout his entire career.”

For someone so easily identified with Swampscott and its surrounding towns, it may interest people to know that Dr. Blander was not a native. He was born in New York City and grew up in Queens. But after medical school at Northwestern University, and a two-year hitch in the Air Force in New Mexico, Blander settled in Swampscott in 1966 and practiced medicine until he retired. And during his career,  he has delivered more than 5,000 babies in and around Swampscott. 

“Few people stay in communities the way he did,” Daniel Blander said. “He loved those relationships. He’d bump into people on the street who he’d delivered, and then he’d have delivered their kids too. He took great pride in being part of a community.”

His reach didn’t just end on the borders of the North Shore, even if he practiced there.

“He’d have patients who came up from Florida,” his son said. “He was, for all intents and purposes, their doctor. An ob/gyn is, lots of times, the doctor women see the most over the years.”

It would be wrong, perhaps, to call Dr. Blander a country doctor, but he had the temperament of one.

“He had a wonderful bedside manner,” Daniel Blander said. “He never rushed people. He made it a point to get to know the entire person. He remembered their careers and remembered the big moves people made in their lives.”

Although Blander never pressured his son to go into medicine, Daniel Blander said watching his father through the years certainly influenced his decision to go into the field.

“Never once did he said I should go into medicine,” he said. “But once I decided it was something I wanted to do, he was supportive. The fact that he loved it so much I thought maybe I wanted to be a doctor too. 

“And there’s nothing like practicing in a community where you’re not anonymous. The anonymity of being in New York was something my father never liked,” his son said. “He loved being here. He started his practice on Ocean Street in Lynn, worked in Lynn and Union hospitals until they (phased out obstetrics). That was really hard on him, because he was very much a part of that community. He loved the community feel of Lynn Hospital.”

As he got older, he stopped obstetrics and focused on gynecology. 

“It’s not an easy life,” Daniel Blander said. “The majority of babies aren’t delivered between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.” 

Dr. Blander leaves Barbara, his wife of 58 years, daughter Andrea, son-in-law Pete Huie, son Daniel, daughter-in-law Leigh, sister Beverly Lieb, brother-in-law Marvin Lieb, four grandchildren, and five nieces and nephews.

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