C. Lee Walter decided when he was in medical school that he wanted to study more after he graduated so he could become a cardiologist. "He felt he could do the most good as a cardiologist," said his son, Robert.
Dr. Walter, a physician at West Penn Hospital for 48 years, must have been right since some patients chose to see him for many years.
"His patients loved him. He followed some of his patients for 30 or 40 years," said Venkatraman Srinivasan, medical director of West Penn's Cardiovascular Institute and director of the cardiac catheterization lab.
And he did so with fine skill. "He contributed greatly to the development of cardiology," Dr. Srinivasan said. "He was also head of the EKG division, electrocardiogram, for several decades."
Dr. Walter of Fox Chapel died Sunday from complications of cancer. He was 81.
He didn't retire until four years ago. "If he were able to, he'd still be working. That was his way," his son said. "He retired his practice to go to hospital administration, where he worked as a director of utilization. He also was on the Western Pennsylvania Hospital Foundation board."
Fellow physicians would have been glad for Dr. Walter to stay longer at West Penn, too.
"He was an exceptional physician," said Bill Goldfarb, the retired burn unit director at West Penn who now is senior vice president of Allegheny Health Network. "He was one of the pioneers of cardiac services at West Penn Hospital, and he was a superb teacher and clinician.
"He was a particular favorite of the residents and medical students who were fortunate enough to study under his tutelage. ... He was dedicated to West Penn Hospital, and even in his retirement he continued to be an active and vital part of the hospital community.
"He continued to participate in medical staff meetings and as a member of the hospital's foundation."
Dr. Walter started his professional life work in a different way -- as a pharmacist.
"My father had his degree in pharmacy, a master's," Robert Walter said. "He worked as a pharmacist briefly between pharmacy school and medical school."
In medical school he decided to train in cardiology and applied at the University of Pennsylvania. "It was a prestigious honor for him to be accepted at the University of Pennsylvania for fellowship training in cardiology," his son said.
Other survivors include his wife, Norma; son, Edward; and four grandchildren. His funeral will be at 9 a.m. today at McCabe Bros. Inc. Funeral Home, 6214 Walnut St., Shadyside, followed by Mass of Christian Burial at 10 a.m. in St. Paul Cathedral, Oakland. Donations may be made to West Penn Hospital Foundation-STAR Program.
Pohla Smith: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1228.