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A Career for His Country

How medicine helped one alumnus serve and protect

Over his long career, Russell Goldbaum, M48, J83P, learned that camaraderie is key. The conviviality of his fellow students at Tufts was crucial in helping Goldbaum get through the grueling work of medical school. He laughs as he remembers a very chilly day when he saw a prankster throw a friend into a local pond. The friend decided to retaliate, and in the ensuing chaos Goldbaum ended up in the freezing water with everyone else. “It was a fun time,” he says.

MASH Capers

After graduating from Tufts University School of Medicine (TUSM) and completing residencies at Brookdale Hospital and Mount Sinai in New York, Goldbaum served in the Korean War from 1952 to 1954. There he found that the same camaraderie remained essential. As part of the Mobile Army Surgical Hospital (MASH), he was a surgeon and captain under Major General Philip De Witt Ginder, head of the 45th Infantry. As his right-hand man, Goldbaum remembers the general as “quite the character,” someone who brought levity to grim situations. He recalls one incident when Ginder walked into a field where Americans had planted mines, assuming that the mines were deactivated.

“The lieutenant colonel came along and yelled at him not to move, but General Ginder didn’t pay much attention to that,” says Goldbaum. “So he started jumping around as if he could jump over the mines. He thankfully made it out of that field without blowing anything up.” Being a MASH surgeon prepared Goldbaum for the challenges of general surgery back home. After returning from Korea, he settled in Haverhill (then known as Bradford), Mass., in 1960 and opened his own vascular and general surgery practice, treating patients from the towns of Bradford, Lawrence, Amesbury, and Newburyport.

“Being a general surgeon allowed me to work in almost every niche,” he says. “I did everything! The experience was invaluable.”

Longstanding Legacy

To support future surgeons and doctors, Goldbaum gives to the Robert H. Goldbaum Scholarship, which his father established in 1961. Robert Goldbaum worked hard to put his son through medical school; contributing to the scholarship allows Russell Goldbaum to help future doctors and honor his father’s memory.

“He paid for everything,” Russell Goldbaum says of his father. “And Tufts was just a marvelous school.”

At Home

Goldbaum turned 90 in May and stays active in his retirement: welding, gardening, and caring for his Haverhill home, even continuing to operate a front-end loader when needed on the seven acre property. An amateur photographer in his Korea days, when he set up a photography darkroom for MASH personnel, he built a bomb shelter in his home that doubled as a photography darkroom. Haverhill was where he raised a family with his wife, Miriam Joy, who died just shy of their 57th wedding anniversary in 2009. He has kept his mind active by writing two books that draw on his experiences in the Army and as a surgeon—Captain Red, a historical novel, and Bite of the Blue Krait, a medical murder mystery.

“Medicine is a gratifying field to go into and surgery is even better than that,” he says. “Surgery changes and saves lives. It was one of the best things I did for myself and it’s one of the best careers you can pursue for your country.” From Kansong, Korea to Northern Massachusetts, Goldbaum says of his career, “I loved every minute of it.”