, • ,• •
Patients toss a surprise party
for octogenarian allergists.
hen it comes time to pay
the doctor's bills, patients
41/(b0 — insured or not — gen-
erally don't think pleasant
Leslie Vilcone of Rochester
Hills is an exception.
Upon moving from California
to Michigan, Mr. Vilcone devel-
oped chronic allergies. At the
time, he lacked money to cover
treatments, but his doctors,
Julius Greenberg and Meryl
Fenton, helped him just the
"They're always going out of
their way for others," Mr. Vilcone
So recently, Mr. Vilcone went
out of his way for them. He was
standing in their West Bloom-
field office, wallet in hand, ready
to pay his bill, when an idea hit
home. Why not toss, a surprise
party — a grand show of appre-
ciation — for Drs. Greenberg and
Both are longtime Detroiters.
Both are in their 80s and still go-
ing strong. And both have a de-
voted following of patients from
a broad spectrum of back-
"I started talking to people in
the waiting room and asked
them to be on the committee,"
Mr. Vilcone said. "Everybody re-
sponded favorably. In fact, when
others heard about it, they called
On May 5, nearly 200 patients
showed up at Pontiac's Pike
Street Restaurant to greet their
shocked docs with honorary
Dr. Meryl Fenton recuperates
from the surprise.
T H E DE TR O IT J EW I S H N E W S
Evelyn and Dr. Julius Greenberg sit by
admirers, Leslie Vilcone, Dvora
Vilcone, Harriet Housman, Walter
Kory, Rose Hechler and Mark Hechler.
Dr. Julius Greenberg receives a grand 'thanks'
from patient Thomas May.
plaques and a standing ovation.
Irwin Shaw of West Bloomfield,
executive vice president emeri-
tus of the Jewish Community
Center, was among them.
"As a patient, I've been seeing
the doctors for about 20 years,"
he said. "But I've known Dr.
Greenberg for over 70 years. We
were kids together. We played
basketball together. We went to
synagogue together. And I've
known Dr. Fenton for more than
50 years. It's more than just a
We're personal friends."
This spring, six patients and
two members of the doctors' staff
started planning the gala. They
sent out invitations declaring
"SHHH!!! It's a secret!!!" and re-
ceived a tremendous response.
For six weeks. before the event,
Southfield resident Rose Hech- •
ler fielded nearly 50 phone calls
a day. Dozens and dozens of pa-
tients sent letters expressing
gratitude — and concern.
"Everyone told me a story
about how the doctors helped
them. And they all told me, 'Tell
us they aren't retiring!"'
(Clarifies Ms. Hechler: "The
doctors are not retiring. This par-
ty was strictly a tribute.")
The surprise party included
lunch, drinks and speakers who
recited poems, Kleenex-in-hand:
"All day long we sneeze and
wheeze with the pollen in the air
... We plead for an appointment
`cause we know you really care."
Keith and Susan Irtenkauf of
Berkley work in the medical
field. They say Drs. Greenberg
and Fenton defy stereotypes of
physicians who are aloof and con-
"We see a lot of doctors go
through the motions, but there
are very few who will call you at
home," Mr. Irtenkauf said.
"These doctors are completely
nonthreatening and nonintimi-
dating. It's very easy to ask them
Said Mrs. Irtenkauf: "Some-
times you go to doctors and they
just blow you off as a complain-
er, or they tell you that you're not
listen to what your
— Susan Irtenkauf
really sick. These guys listen to
what your problem is."
Thomas May of Detroit cred-
its Drs. Greenberg and Fenton
with his life.
"I had asthma so bad that I
had to have a private tutor when
I was 8 years old," he said. "I had
the worst case of asthma you
ever want to see. I think Dr. Fen-
ton and Dr. Greenberg are won-
derful doctors. If I didn't have
their help, I don't think I'd be
around today. I really don't."
The two allergists return the
appreciation: "You people have
helped put us where we are to-
day," Dr. Fenton said.
Said Dr. Greenberg, "I hope
we'll all continue in good health
and friendship for many years to