Monday, December 13, 2010

A Little Bit of Good Left the World Yesterday

Dr. Mark Pescovitz died Sunday in an accident on I-94 in Michigan. He was returning from a visit with his wife, Ora Pescovitz, the former president and chief executive officer of Riley Hospital for Children.We all like to think that we’re good people. And most of us are, at least within our own universe of friends and acquaintances and business contacts. But how many of us are really good people in the sense that we can honestly say that we’ve given of ourselves in a way that truly makes the world a better place? Many of us volunteer some time or donate some money, but how many of us have really made that a central part of their lives, even going and giving beyond our own community in order to help people?

Indianapolis lost one of those good people yesterday, when Dr. Mark Pescovitz was killed in a car crash.

Mark was an organ transplant surgeon. He was also very active in the Indianapolis Jewish community (he served on the Executive Committee of the Jewish Community Relations Council and was a vice president during my term as president). But I’m sure that you’ll read all about Mark in The Indianapolis Star or other written tributes (please take a moment and read the tribute by Mark’s younger brother).

In all honesty, I didn’t really know Mark that well. I know that I liked to tease him when he’d miss a JCRC meeting (“Sorry, but flying off to Lebanon or Iraq to perform a transplant or teach other doctors how to do so just isn’t as important as whatever ‘big issue’ that we had to discuss,” I’d tell him). I know that he was named a village elder by a tribe in Kenya for helping them learn about AIDS. I know that, no matter what the subject, whenever Mark had something to say, it was worth listening to. And I know, from a lengthy discussion in an airport waiting for a delayed flight, that he really, really loved his family.

But beyond that, one of the most important things that I learned about Mark was something that he wouldn’t say about himself: Mark was a good person; he was one of those people who worked hard to try to make the world — not just the world of his family or friends or even the broader Jewish or Indianapolis communities — but the entire world, a better place. And I think, in that, he succeeded in ways that most of us can barely comprehend.

I offer condolences to his family and to those who were close to him. But all of us should recognize that we — Jews, Hoosiers, humans — have lost a special person.

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