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Giving back to a giving doctor
Marisa Donelan, Sentinel & Enterprise, August 16, 2007

LEOMINSTER - Geraldine Feldman, of Leominster, sits at a reading desk in the children s room at the Leominster Library, Wednesday, as she talks about how the library will be renaming the room after her late husband, Dr. Martin T. Feldman, in a ceremony in September. Pediatrician Martin T. Feldman used to buy thousands of children's books at yard sales to give to his patients and their families.

And next month, Feldman -- who died last summer at the age of 61 -- will be remembered both for his care of children and his support for children's literacy, his wife, Geraldine Feldman said Wednesday.

The Leominster Public Library's new children's room will be named the Dr. Martin T. Feldman Children's Room.

The library reopened earlier this summer after a massive renovation and expansion project.

"It's being done because Marty loved children," Geraldine Feldman said during an interview at the library. "We've loved this library for years. During the summers, Marty would go around, looking for children's books at yard sales for his patients."

The late doctor, who founded the city's Medical Associates Pediatrics, treated three generations of families in his 32 years of practice, his wife said.

He also worked with teachers in the community to help promote literacy -- even asking for progress reports for some of his patients -- knowing how important reading is in child development, so Geraldine Feldman said the dedication of the room is fitting.

"He would ask every parent, 'Do you read to your children?'" she said. "It was such an important question."

Martin Feldman died after battling chronic lymphocytic leukemia.

His family told the Sentinel & Enterprise last summer that a stem-cell donation from a college student named Amy Fishman, who'd never met the doctor, kept him alive for a year and a half.
The family is still in touch with her, his wife said Wednesday.

Geraldine Feldman, a retired allergist, said her family's ties to the library go back to when her three children attended the Applewild School in Fitchburg and had Fridays off school in first through third grade.

"I'd be in here, for nine years, every Friday afternoon," she said. "I got to know the place, and the people here."

Library Director Susan Shelton said "it feels wonderful" to be able to name the room for Martin Feldman.

"It's really so fitting," she said. " ... He was both extremely well-respected and very well-loved."

The couple's three children, Joshua Feldman, Riva Wolkow and Sara Jacobson, will be at a dedication ceremony and party Sept. 9.

Joshua Feldman, 35, now an attorney in New York City, said he's excited about the dedication, and said literacy promotion was a way his father worked to improve life for children here.

"It's a wonderful way to keep my father's memory alive in the community," he said Wednesday. "Literacy and reading were extremely important to my father. The children in the community were his life, in addition to his own family."

Terry Callahan, a pediatrician with Medical Associates Pediatrics, said she will definitely attend the dedication, and said Martin Feldman supported her involvement with Reach Out and Read, a program that encourages literacy through family pediatrics offices.

"The reason for pairing it with a physician is we see kids right from the start," she said. "Teachers get them when they're in kindergarten or first grade, and they always say they know which kids have been read to. You want your kids to grow up loving it ... Marty understood that. He focused on what was best for the child."

Callahan, who ran the 2006 Boston Marathon in Martin Feldman's name after his successful stem-cell transplant, said she misses her mentor.

"There are situations ... we ask, 'Oh God, what would Marty do?'" she said.

Dedication of the Dr. Martin T. Feldman Children's Room will take place Sunday, Sept. 9 from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. in the Leominster Public Library, 30 West St.

Geraldine Feldman said it will be a kid-oriented party.

"It's going to be a party Marty would have liked for children," she said. "There will be all kinds of activities and fun for them."



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