Dr. Ed Orzac dies at 95

Hewlett Harbor resident founded Franklin Medical Center in Valley Stream


His medical career began shortly before World War II, and didn’t end until the 21st century was beginning. Dr. Edward Orzac, a Hewlett Harbor resident, will be remembered for the many things he accomplished.

Orzac died at home on Dec. 9, after a long illness. He was 95.

Orzac was the founder of the Franklin Medical Center in Valley Stream and helped establish the Orzac Center for Extended Care and Rehabilitation there. The medical center is now a 305-bed hospital that is part of the North Shore-LIJ Health System. The Orzac Center is a 120-bed long-term-care facility.

Dr. Edward Davison, former chief of cardiology at Franklin, described Orzac as a leader who always thought about those who worked there. “He cared for the doctors at the hospital,” Davison said. “He was a legend, and there was nobody like Ed.”

Born on Jan. 11, 1917, Orzac started practicing medicine after graduating from the University of Virginia Medical School in 1941. He interned at Wilkes-Barre General Hospital in Pennsylvania.

World War II interrupted his medical career. Assigned to a U.S. Army combat infantry division, Orzac earned the rank of major and received the Bronze Star and several other honors for his military service. Leatrice Slote Spanierman, a retired Herald executive editor who knew Orzac and his wife, Bebe, for more than 40 years, loved listening to the stories about his military service, his experiences as a medical care provider and the achievements of his daughters and grandchildren.

“I have always called Edward Orzac Dr. Ed out of respect for his brilliance,” Spanierman said. “He was one of the few people I knew who excelled in whatever endeavor he chose to undertake. Dr. Ed was a fascinating personality. He embraced life with a passion; his interests spanned the globe.”

Following the war, he restarted his career and completed his residency and post-graduate education at Morrisania City Hospital in the Bronx and New York University Bellevue Graduate School of Medicine. He served as the chief resident at Morrisania in 1947 and 1948. After completing his residency, Orzac opened a private practice that he ran until 1981. He specialized in otolaryngology, the diagnosis and treatment of disorders of the head and neck, better known as ENT (ear, nose and throat).

Orzac not only served the local community, but took his talents global. He provided free medical care in Afghanistan, India and Indonesia, and was honored by those nations for his contributions. He lived and worked in India for several months a year for more than 20 years. In Afghanistan he worked with the humanitarian nonprofit group Medico.

Davison’s wife, Lindsay, who was a nurse at Franklin before becoming an attorney, remembers Orzac fondly. “He was always upbeat,” she said. “Whenever anyone would ask him how he was, he responded by saying, ‘Never better,’ and that was his trademark response.”

Orzac shared his knowledge as an adjunct professor of medicine, teaching at several universities, including NYU’s Graduate School of Medicine, Stony Brook Medical School and Adelphi and St. John’s universities. He also taught at Kasturba Medical School in Manipal, India, and was an adjunct professor of Asian history at Hofstra University.

His wrote two books about his world travels with his wife. He helped to raise money for many Jewish organizations and causes. He was honored by the City of Chicago, the United Jewish Appeal, the Boys Scouts of America and the Maxillofacial Society, among other groups.

Orzac is survived by his wife, Beatrice; daughters Caroline Orzac Shoenberger (Allen), Virginia Orzac Secemsky (Sol) and Elizabeth Orzac Yelen; grandchildren Gina Secemsky, Eric Secemsky (Neelam), Brian Secemsky, Elisa Shoenberger, Dana Yelen Ladani (Ofer), Tracey Yelem and James Yelem, and great- grandson Adam Ladani.