Dec. 17, 1923 – March 3, 2013
LEWISTON – Dr. Lester H. Schiff, longtime chief of staff at Mount St. Mary’s Hospital, died Sunday after a long illness at his home in Las Vegas, where he lived for the past year and a half. He was 89.
Affiliated with Mount St. Mary’s Hospital for 48 years, he retired in 2001 after 19 years as chief of staff. He also served as chief of pediatrics and medical director at Mount St. Mary’s and was an attending pediatrician at Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center.
A native of Chicago, Dr. Schiff was a graduate of the University of Chicago and Amherst College and earned his medical degree from the University of Buffalo School of Medicine in 1948. He served his residency at Children’s Hospital in Buffalo and at the Children’s Medical Center in Boston. In 1952, he joined the medical staff of what was then St. Mary’s Hospital as a pediatrician and opened a private pediatric practice in Niagara Falls. He later had offices in Lewiston.
He was appointed chief of pediatrics at Mount St. Mary’s in 1957, assistant chief of staff in 1980, chief of staff in 1982 and medical director in 1989, when he retired from private practice.
Dr. Schiff was an attending pediatrician at Women & Children’s Hospital of Buffalo and a clinical professor of pediatrics at the University at Buffalo Medical School.
He was past president of the Martha Beeman Child Guidance Clinic and served on the Niagara University Council.
He was the founder and chairman of the Niagara County Child Maltreatment Council and an advocate member of the Niagara County Task Force on Child Abuse.
Dr. Schiff was active in Temple Beth Israel in Niagara Falls and was chairman of the annual citation awards for the National Conference of Christians and Jews.
He also was active in public health programs, serving the United Way, United Cerebral Palsy Association, the Health Planning Council and the AIDS Task Force.
His wife of 61 years, the former Miriam “Mimi” Sapowitch, an artist, painted the murals in the pediatrics unit at the old St. Mary’s Hospital in Niagara Falls.
He also is survived by four daughters, Karen Lustig, Barbara Fine, Janet Schiff-DiFiore and Sandy.
Services will be at 10 a.m. today in Amherst Memorial Chapel, 281 Dodge Road, Getzville.