Last Friday, Gene Levin saw patients at his office on Park Avenue, as he has for the last 41 years. On Saturday afternoon, he had wine and cheese in the garden with Vivian, his wife of 60 years and collapsed shortly thereafter. He was 85 years old when he died.
Born in Philadelphia, Penn., on May 6, 1927 to his pharmacist father, Benjamin Levin and his seamstress mother, Mary Neckrich Levin. He was raised and educated in Philadelphia. Levin graduated from Overbrook High School at 16, from Temple University at 18 and from Temple University Medical School at 22.
Upon completing medical school, Levin moved to Los Angeles in 1949 where he was an intern at Cedars Sinai in Hollywood. He was a resident at the Veteran’s Administration Hospital in Long Beach and in 1953 he went into the U.S. Army and then transferred to San Francisco’s Letterman Hospital.
Levin returned to Los Angeles in 1954 where he lived with his wife Vivian and three children, David, Benjamin and Carol. Levin had a successful practice in Beverly Hills and in 1972 he moved his medical practice and family to Laguna Beach. He was a board certified internist and a fellow of the American College of Cardiology.
Levin was passionate and committed to his medical practice for over 60 years. He treated his patients with love, dignity and respect, regardless of their walk of life and their ability to pay. He believed everyone was entitled to quality care. He was director of education in the late ‘70s of the former South Coast Medical Center, now Mission Hospital. He was a member of Laguna Beach Rotary Club for over 30 years and served on the Laguna Beach High School scholarship selection committee for students interested in pursuing a medical career. He was a beloved community member, respected by his colleagues and adored by his patients.
Levin was a star in high school, where he was captain of the chess team. As a kid, he grew up listening to live classical music by the Philadelphia Philharmonic and from then on had a lifelong love of all the arts, serving on the board of the Laguna Art Museum, the board of the Laguna Playhouse and most recently on the board of the Laguna Dance Festival.
He was always a huge sports fan. One of his favorite stories was about growing up in Philadelphia, where he played street basketball and taught Wilt Chamberlin’s high school coach how to play basketball. While Chamberlin went on to play for the Lakers, Levin went on to be a lifelong Laker’s fan. He also loved the Dodgers and more recently the Angels. During the last 15 years, hockey became his passion, watching his grandson Gabe grow into an accomplished hockey player, who is currently playing for the University of Denver Pioneers. Levin also had some athletic talent and was an avid tennis player, winning many tournaments at Rancho Park Tennis Club in Los Angeles and continuing to play for many years in Laguna Beach. In later years, he loved nothing more than to spend hours watching his favorite sports teams on television, while flipping through stacks of medical journals.
Friends, family and patients loved Levin’s sparkling eyes, his million dollar smile and abundance of energy. We will all remember his infectious laugh.
He is survived by Vivian, his wife, best friend and soul mate; children David, Ben and Carol; son-in-law Daniel White; and three grandchildren Gabriel, August and Spencer.
In lieu of flowers, please send a donation to the Laguna Beach Rotary Club Foundation. A memorial service will be held on Saturday, Sept. 29 at 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Tivoli Too, 777 Laguna Canyon Rd., in Laguna Beach.