Local | Obituaries

Dan Karsch, longtime Tucson doctor and community activist, dies at 78

dan_karsch-_tom_newman_large_obitAt left, Daniel Karsch (left) and Tom Newman, former partners in Old Pueblo Urology, during a visit Karsch and his wife, Carol, made to Tucson from Israel in February 2020. At right, Karsch and Newman co-host 'The Plumber's Ball' in 1974. (Courtesy Carol Karsch)

Daniel Nathan Karsch, M.D., 78, died of cancer on July 23, 2020.

Dan was born in Philadelphia to Lil and Joe Karsch and grew up in the large Jewish neighborhood of Wynnefield, centered around Har Zion Temple, Jewish schools, synagogues, and Camp Ramah. A graduate of Ursinus College and Jefferson Medical College, he performed his medical residency in urology at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. Dan and his wife, Carol, brought their family to Tucson in 1972 as Dan was stationed at Davis Monthan Air Base. They remained in Tucson for the next 40 years.

In 1974, Dan founded Old Pueblo Urology with his partner Tom Newman, and they continued to practice together for over 30 years. Dan’s children, Benjy, Hannah, and Mordy, grew up in Tucson, attending Tucson Hebrew Academy and University High School, and made their way to Stamford, Connecticut; Modiin, Israel; and Oakland, California.

In addition to his love of medicine, Dan was deeply committed to the Tucson Jewish community. His served as president of Congregation Anshei Israel and on the boards of Tucson Hebrew Academy and the Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona. One favorite volunteer task was teaching at Tucson’s High School for Jewish Studies, aka Hebrew High, where he prepared students for leadership roles and support for Israel as they headed to their various college campuses.  His passion for Israel also led him to chair Tucson’s Desert Caucus and the Weintraub Israel Center, where he organized and participated in a speaker’s bureau engaging with church and civic organizations throughout Tucson.

“We were on innumerable task forces and boards and committees together for the last four decades,” says his friend Ron Weintraub, founding co-chair of the Israel Center with his wife, Diane. Dan was active with the Israel Center from its beginnings, and was especially interested in hasbara, “the interaction between Tucson and Israel,” particularly the treatment of Israel in the news, Weintraub adds.

“When I think of Dan, the first thing I think of is that he was always upbeat, and always realistically positive,” Weintraub says, recalling that Dan’s smiling countenance, whether at a meeting or just having lunch together, was “very comforting and very inclusive.”

Weintraub also was struck by Dan’s “absolute strength that he exhibited by his willingness to submit to some pretty difficult treatments on his cancer,” which he faced with his characteristic positivity, “although as a doctor he probably knew exactly what the odds were.”

In 2012, Dan fulfilled his lifetime dream to make aliyah to Israel, settling in Modiin where he and Carol made their home.

Dan was predeceased by his sister, Ruth (Dr. Marvin) Sackner, and leaves behind his wife, Carol; brother, Samuel Karsch; children Benjy Karsch, Hannah (Jacky) Hochner and Mordy Karsch; and six grandchildren.

At the shloshim commemorating 30 days following the burial, held at the Modiin cemetery surrounded by the Ben Shemen forest, Dan’s grandchildren spoke about his capacity to combine life’s serious commitments with the ability to engender humor and enjoyment for everyone in his presence.