WILKES-BARRE — Dr. George Moses, a renowned local surgeon who dedicated his life to bettering the community, died Tuesday. He was 81.
“It’s a shocker,” said his brother, attorney John Moses.” He was a loyal brother and he was truly committed to our community, especially to our young people. His death is a serious loss to our area.”
Arrangements for Moses’ funeral are pending. Colleen Moses, wife of George’s brother, Peter, said a Mass has been scheduled for Saturday at 10 a.m. at St. Anthony’s Maronite Church, 311 Park Ave. Arrangements are being made through the Mamary-Durkin Funeral Service Inc.
Dr. Moses was a general surgery specialist in Wilkes-Barre, and he had been practicing for more than 50 years. He graduated from Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University in 1962 and specialized in general surgery.
“Doc,” as he was known, had sponsored many youth teams and basketball tournaments. He was a fixture at local athletic events and supported many organizations during his lifetime.
Former Bishop Hoban and King’s College standout player, John Leighton, was a lifelong friend of “Doc.” He said “Doc’s” passing marks a “very sad day for our community.”
“I’m heartbroken,” Leighton said. “He was a good man, a dear friend.”
Leighton said he first met “Doc” when Leighton was a sophomore in high school. Leighton was playing on a basketball team — BP Oil — with other freshmen and sophomores and they came up against Doc’s powerhouse Valley Sportsmen squad.
“We lost to them by two points,” Leighton said. “After the game, Doc came over to me, introduced himself and said he wanted me on his team the next year. That was the beginning of our friendship that lasted until the moment he died.”
Leighton said “Doc” was “a very special and generous person” who would give you the shirt off his back. He said for about the last six months Moses’ health was failing.
“His illness took a lot out of him,” Leighton said. “He was struggling.”
Leighton and John Moses said “Doc” was out Monday night, stopping for a sundae at Dairy Queen and then briefly at Bar & Urby’s on South Main Street.
“He was a man who did not miss a beat,” Leighton said. “He lived his life his way right to the end.”
Attorney Bill Ruzzo said he and “Doc” spoke almost every day.
“We were close,” Ruzzo said. “I have hundreds of Doc stories. We had thousands of dinners together. I was his lawyer, but he never followed my advice. He watched (TV show) ‘Matlock’ religiously and he gave me legal advice.”
Ruzzo said “Doc’s” death is a personal loss for him and a huge loss for the community.
“He treated so many people and never sent them a bill,” Ruzzo said. “I had a health issue a couple of weeks ago. I called George at 11 p.m. He diagnosed me over the phone. The doctor handling my case said George was correct — there was nothing wrong with me and he let me go home. He’s the only doctor I know that would take my call at 11 p.m. and make sure I was taken care of.”
Ruzzo said his friend was also a diehard New York Yankees fan.
“One of his last texts Monday night was ‘Yanks winning, 7-0.’ That was Doc,” Ruzzo said.
Joseph J. Grilli, director of Corporate and Institutional Recruitment at Misericordia University, was also a close friend. He said “Doc” saved his life.
“This is absolutely one of the worst days of my life,” Grilli said.
Grilli suffered a stroke in 1994 and tore his carotid artery high into his brain. He said he was told it was inoperable.
“Doc got on the phone at 3 a.m. and found one of only two doctors in the country who had the ability to save me, and he got me there in 24 hours,” Grilli recalled.
He referred to his friend’s death as “the end of a wonderful era.” He worked with “Doc” at Mercy Hospital in Wilkes-Barre for 10 years and he knows he gave free care to anyone who couldn’t afford it.
Another buddy, Tom McGrath, said “Doc” bagged groceries for his grandfather at Acme Market on Pennsylvania Avenue when “Doc” was a student at King’s College.
“We go way back,” McGrath said. “We expected this was going to happen; his health was failing. But you still hate it when it happens.”
McGrath said Moses lived a full life and was one of the most generous persons he has ever known.
“I spoke to him last night,” McGrath said. “He told me he fell. I asked if he wanted me to take him to the ER. He said he would be fine.”
Reach Bill O’Boyle at 570-991-6118 or on Twitter @TLBillOBoyle.