Dr. Arthur Wolk, a beloved Rutland area pediatrician, died Thursday at the age of 97. Wolk took care of thousands of children in his 42-year medical career.
Born in 1919, Wolk grew up in Rutland and attended the University of Vermont for undergraduate studies and medical school. During World War II and the Korean War, he served in the US Army Medical Corps.
According to his obituary, while practicing in Rutland, Wolk helped start the first day care center in the city in the 1950s. He served as chairman of the Vermont Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, served as president of the medical staff of what is now Rutland Regional Medical Center and was chairman of the Rutland County Medical Society.
Bob Hession, a retired pediatrician, worked with Art Wolk for the first 16 years of his practice. "Art was always an inspiration and role model to me," says Hession. "He taught me something that was not well taught in medical school in those days. He taught me the importance of rapport with parents and the importance of making people feel comfortable even under very difficult situations."
Emmie Burke, of Chittenden, understands that all too well She met Wolk in the early 1960s, after giving birth to her first child Lennie. Over the years, she says Dr. Wolk took care of all four of her kids.
“Each of my children in their own way, as they grew up, had different issues that he just took care of beautifully and gave all of us a sense of relief that he was in our lives," Burke says.
But she says it was after her son Lennie suffered a near fatal traumatic brain injury when he was 17 that her relationship with Wolk became especially close. She says Wolk helped her navigate her son’s care and long term rehabilitation. And she says the entire time her son was in the hospital, Wolk or someone from his office would visit daily, something she’s never forgotten.
She says the Wolk and Burke families have remained dear friends because of it for years.
“What I loved, because we were so close, was that he would take my hand and hold it and he would just say, ‘Emmie, Emmie, Emmie.’ And I always felt like crying,” Burke says. “It was just the sweetest possible way of telling me how much he appreciated our relationship, and I just felt it.”
So did many others.
Jim Clifford, whose family operates the Clifford Funeral Home in Rutland and who has been handling arrangements for the Wolk family, says he can remember walking to Art Wolk's office as a child to get his first shot.
"And because it was Dr. Wolk I knew I didn't have to be scared," he says with a chuckle. "He was just the most gentle and kind man. And my parents trusted him completely."
"I'm 60 years old now," says Clifford, "and I'll always remember Art Wolk. He really cared, and even though I was just a child, I understood that."
The pediatric practice Wolk started in Rutland in 1952 has grown to include multiple doctors and continues to treat patients.
Arthur Wolk is survived by his wife of almost 70 years, Florrie, and three sons, Tom, Dave and Brad.