When Evansville furniture-store owner Mose Neustadt and his piano-playing wife, Leah, sent son, David, off to college during the early days of WWII, he stayed close to home: DePauw University in Greencastle, IN. But from there he went far, to San Francisco as a U.S. Army military-police investigator, New York City for medical training, then to the top of his profession as a renowned rheumatologist. Along the way, he earned a medical degree from the University of Louisville, and as Dr. David H. Neustadt, established the U of L Department of Medicine’s Division of Rheumatology, became Jewish Hospital’s Chief of Medicine and Medical Staff President, was a U of L clinical professor in medicine from 1974 to 2013, and achieved treatment breakthroughs that became standard arthritis protocols.
Dr. Neustadt died Monday at Norton Brownsboro Hospital of Parkinson’s disease complications, shortly before his 94th birthday on Dec 2. He leaves Carolyn Jacobson Neustadt, his adored wife of 67 years, and his proudest legacy: three children, six grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren, with a third on the way. He and Carolyn moved from their longtime east end home to Treyton Oak Towers in 2016.
Dr. Neustadt was a Fellow of the American College of Physicians and the American College of Rheumatology (ACR), which named him Master of the ACR in 1992 and five years later honored him with the Distinguished Rheumatologist Award, in recognition of outstanding achievements in the field of rheumatology, one of the ACR’s top three honors. He spent his professional life treating and studying rheumatic diseases, including rheumatoid and osteoarthritis, retiring at 87. After completing one of the first National Institutes of Arthritis and Metabolic Diseases Fellowships, he served as Chief of the Arthritis Clinic at Louisville General Hospital from 1960 to 1976. He also held clinics in Eastern Kentucky for the United Mine Workers.
Dr. Neustadt served as president and chairman of the Medical Science Committee with the Arthritis Foundation’s Kentucky Chapter, and on the Spondylitis Association of America Board. U of L established the Dr. David H. Neustadt Library and the David H. Neustadt, M.D. Foundation for Rheumatology, an endowment that benefits the Division of Rheumatology, in his honor.
He lectured worldwide, authored dozens of scientific publications, three medical texts, and most notably, the book, Aspiration and Injection Therapy in Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Disorders, in 1972.
“His research included the use of intraarticular corticosteroid therapy for the treatment of osteoarthritis,’’ said son Dr. Jeffrey B. Neustadt, Clinical Professor of Orthopedic Surgery at the University of South Florida, College of Medicine, Tampa Bay. “It was groundbreaking and avant garde when he started doing it. Now it is routinely performed in rheumatology and orthopedic offices.’’-Dr. Neustadt trained at what was then Morrisania City Hospital – now Albert Einstein Montefiore Medical Center – and Lenox Hill Hospital in New York, where he met his future wife, a stunning 19-year-old college student. After a short engagement, they married at the Plaza Hotel.
With his Lenox Hill mentor, the famed Dr. Otto Steinbrocker, Dr. Neustadt published the first description of “shoulder-hand syndrome,” now known as complex regional pain syndrome. But he eschewed the chance to join a prominent New York practice, instead returning to U of L as the Division of Medicine’s founding Chief of the Division of Rheumatology.
Elegantly dressed, whether at the office or on the tennis court, Dr. Neustadt’s shock of wavy, silver hair and coal-black eyebrows made him instantly recognizable. A longtime U of L basketball season-ticket holder, Dr. Neustadt enjoyed Cuban cigars, a day at Churchill Downs, the peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches that Carolyn packed for his lunch, any opportunity to don cowboy boots and a Western hat, and festive family gatherings that drew relatives from around the country.
His license plate read JOINTS, reflecting both his profession and an exuberant sense of humor. When the mood struck him, he’d burst into song, in an exaggerated, theatrical, although tone-deaf baritone.
The Neustadts, who belong to The Temple, are well known for their local philanthropy.
Son Jeffrey said that his father was optimistic about life and medicine. “He treated people with impossibly incurable, chronic diseases that wreaked havoc on their joints. And yet he knew that he could provide them significant relief with drugs he helped develop, and injections he perfected. There are those who can’t maintain equanimity without being able to immediately fix what is broken. For Dad, the belief that gentle treatment, combined with the optimism that time would heal or at least provide relief, was profound.’’
In addition to Carolyn and Jeffrey (Susan Harris), Dr. Neustadt leaves daughter Susan Neustadt Deflorian (Fritz), a retired Special Education teacher and Tucson Realtor, Robert A. Neustadt (Prof. Erika Hess) of Flagstaff, Professor of Spanish and Director of Latin American Studies at Northern Arizona University; grandchildren Nicholas Deflorian (Yan Ling), Adam Deflorian (Danielle Skornik), Gabriel Neustadt, Sydney Neustadt, Tasha Hess-Neustadt, and Camila Hess-Neustadt; and great-grandchildren Emily Deflorian and Eli Deflorian. His only sibling, Dr. Jerome E. Neustadt, died in 1982.
Funeral services are 1:30 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 14, at Herman Meyer & Son, Inc., 1338 Ellison Ave. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to The Dr. David H. Neustadt Rheumatology Foundation, U of L Department of Medicine, 550 Jackson St., 3rd floor, Louisville, KY 40202, or the Kentucky Chapter of the Arthritis Foundation, 9462 Brownsboro Rd, #189, Louisville, KY 40241.
Submitted by former Courier-Journal reporter Elinor J. Brecher (1977-1989)
The Temple Cemetery
A 10-E; Row 3