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Morris Wessel, M.D. (PD ’48)

WESSEL, MORRIS ARTHUR Morris Arthur Wessel, who practiced pediatrics in New Haven for 42 years until his retirement in 1993, died Saturday (Aug 20) at age 98 at the New Haven home in which he had lived for half a century. Wessel was known, as the Yale Medical School alumni magazine once put it, as “a pediatrician who treated not just the children but the whole family.” Born in Providence, R.I., he was the sole child of Morris J. Wessel, who had died in the influenza epidemic of 1918, and Bessie Bloom Wessel, a sociologist who was on the faculty of Connecticut College. Wessel graduated from Johns Hopkins University in 1939 and received his M.D. from Yale Medical School in 1943. After serving in the U.S. Army, he became a pediatric fellow at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. As a research fellow at Yale Medical School, Wessel joined in a landmark “rooming-in” study by the late clinical professor Edith B. Jackson, M.D., which examined how keeping newborns in their mothers’ hospital rooms affected families. In 1954, he offered a widely accepted – and still widely cited — definition of “colic” as a healthy baby with periods of intense, unexplained fussing/crying lasting more than 3 hours a day, more than 3 days a week for more than 3 weeks. With Anthony Dominski, Ph.D, he investigated lead levels in children in the 1970s and recommended a level then thought to be unrealistically low. The American Academy of Pediatrics eventually recommended an even lower level. In 1974, he joined with Florence Wald, then dean of the Yale School of Nursing, and others to found Connecticut Hospice, the nation’s first hospice. After Wessel retired from private practice in 1993, he continued to work as a consultant to the Clifford Beers Clinic, which in 1997 named its national trauma center the Morris Wessel Child and Family Trauma Center. Wessel’s wife, Irmgard Rosenzweig Wessel, died in 2014. He is survived by four children, David Bruce, Paul and Lois; eight grandchildren; two great-grandchildren and hundreds of former patients. Contributions may be made to the Morris and Irmgard Wessel Fund, a donor-advised fund at the Community Foundation of Greater New Haven, which makes annual awards to unsung heroes who are improving life for residents of the city. Funeral Servives at Robert E. Shure Funeral Home, 543 George St.,New Haven, MONDAY(TODAY) at 12:oo o’clock NOON with Interment Services to folow at the B’nai Jacob Memorial Park, Wintergreen Ave.,New Haven. The family will observe a period of mourning on Monday and Tuesday, Aug. 22 and Aug. 23, at 61 Elmwood Road, New Haven. To sign an on-line registry book or to leave a message of condolence, please visit:

Obituary courtesy of The New Haven Register 

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