David Peltan, 97, of Bensalem, an optometrist who treated patients in Northeast Philadelphia for five decades, died Thursday, March 1, of an infection at Brookside Healthcare & Rehabilitation Center in Roslyn.
From 1946 to 1996, Dr. Peltan conducted eye examinations and prescribed corrective lenses, starting his practice in the basement of his home on Axe Factory Road in Northeast Philadelphia. After the house was sold in the 1970s, he practiced from an office at 13th and Arch Streets with his brother-in-law, Philip Levin. That office was in one of the buildings that was razed to make room for the Convention Center, which opened in 1993.
Later, he worked from the Vision Clinic on Norcross Lane in Northeast Philadelphia.
"He cared for so many patients with dedication," said his daughter, Nancy Alessi. As he was examining their eyes, he liked to engage in spirited discussion about politics with his patients, his daughter said.
"I remember during the Vietnam War era, he was opposed to it in no uncertain terms," Alessi said. "He knew a lot about politics and history, and had a good memory. He loved to talk about that."
Born in South Philadelphia to Samuel and Mirel Peltan, he graduated from South Philadelphia High School.
Dr. Peltan enrolled in the Pennsylvania School of Optometry, now Salus University. He attended classes during the day and also worked nights at the 30th Street post office to pay his tuition. He graduated with the optometry school's Class of 1942.
In 1943, he enlisted in the Army Medical Corps during World War II. Just before shipping out to North Africa for active duty, he married his childhood sweetheart, Doris Menchel. The two had been neighbors on McClellan Street in South Philadelphia. He was honorably discharged in 1945.
After the war, Dr. Peltan and his wife settled in Philadelphia, where they reared four children. His wife died in 1976.
Three years later, he married Leslie Stone. They were together until Stone's death in 2012.
Dr. Peltan was "a gruff person on the outside and a gentle person on the inside," who cared deeply about social injustice and those less fortunate than he, his daughter said.
"He and my mom went to the protests during the Vietnam War and he tried to educate people — that was his mission," Alessi said.
Dr. Peltan grew up in a home in which there was no extra money to keep a pet. When he married and had his own home, he adopted a stray dog. After the dog died, he adopted a stray cat.
He cherished the company of his cats, the last two of whom, named Socks and Obie, have been adopted.
His other passion was classical music, and he regularly attended Philadelphia Orchestra concerts. "He had season tickets for years and years," his daughter said. "Early on, it was up in the [cheap seats]. Later, he had better seats."
As a father, he was protective and had high expectations. He was proud of his children, his daughter said.
In addition to his daughter, Dr. Peltan is survived by sons Stephen and Howard Peltan; six grandchildren; and seven great-grandchildren. Another son, Mark, died earlier.
Funeral services will be at 11:15 a.m. Wednesday, March 7, at Goldsteins' Rosenberg's Raphael Sacks Suburban North, 310 Second Street Pike, Southampton. Interment is in Shalom Memorial Park, Huntingdon Valley.