In Memoriam: Wilfred Weinstein, MD

Dear Colleagues, 

It is with a heavy heart that we share with you the passing of Wilfred Weinstein, MD, gastroenterologist in the division of digestive diseases. For so many of us at UCLA, he was a valued colleague, physician, faculty member, fellowship program director, mentor, and friend. We were fortunate to count on him as a member of our community for over 40 years. We extend our condolences to his loved ones and would like to share a bio provided by Dr. Weinsten’s family which celebrates his life, legacy and his impact on the lives he touched.

Fred, Freddy, Zev, Velvel, was born to Isaac and Reva Weinstein on March 14, 1940, in Melville, Saskatchewan. He received his medical degree from Queen’s University in Kingston Ontario. He did his internship and residency in internal medicine at McGill Royal Victoria Hospital. He conducted his fellowship in gastroenterology at the University of Washington under the tutelage of his mentor, Dr. Cy Rubin. After his fellowship, he took a position at the University of Alberta in Edmonton in GI and pathology. A movie about his pioneering work there was released a few years ago entitled, On The Shoulders of Giants. In 1979, he accepted a position as a professor of medicine at UCLA where he practiced medicine, conducted research, and trained hundreds of doctors until 2013. He lectured all over the world, published hundreds of scientific articles, and received some of the highest awards and recognitions his profession gives out. But you would never know about his accolades if you met him. He was a humble mensch.

Fred/Zev met his wife, Marilyn Watterson, in Seattle during his fellowship, when she was an educator at IBM. The boy from the prairies of Canada fell in love with the girl from a dairy farm in Washington state. They got married in 1968. In addition to his wife, Fred/Zev is survived by his daughters Rebecca (Wade) and Aviva. He is also survived by his five grandchildren, each of whom he adored: Isaac, Aaron, and Noa Bacon and Jacob and Yona Glouberman.

While his biggest passion was his family, a close second was teaching the next generation of doctors. But the list of passions mentioned must include hockey, Yiddish culture, witty banter, and music. 

Fred/Zev lived with Alzheimer’s the last decade of his life. Marilyn went to heroic lengths to continue to infuse these years of his life with activities, visitors, and above all music. He and Marilyn were robust members of Music Mends Minds, a nonprofit group that creates musical support groups for individuals with Alzheimer’s and other brain diseases. He was a member of the 5th Dementia Band. He had the love and attention of many caregivers, but in particular, Ken Mallari and Jubo Kamal, made him smile every day. 

Fred/Zev is predeceased by his parents, his stepmother, Anne Weinstein, Uncle Max and Aunt Esther Weinstein, Uncle Oscar and Aunt Esther Weinstein, and Joel Weinstein (beloved cousin). He is survived by his siblings Hymie Weinstein (Shaaron), Faye Weinstein (George), Shirley Weinstein, Chuck Narvey (Ruth), and Bill Narvey (Karen). He is also survived by numerous nieces and nephews who all looked up (quite literally) to “Uncle Freddy.”

He was quick with a joke and treated every single person with the same level of kindness and genuine interest. He will be deeply missed. Click below to watch a video of Dr. Weinstein's memorial service.


E. Dale Abel, MD, PhD

William S. Adams Distinguished Professor of Medicine
Chair and Executive Medical Director
Department of Medicine
David Geffen School of Medicine and UCLA Health  

Eric Esrailian, MD, MPH

Chief, Vatche & Tamar Manoukian Division of Digestive Diseases
Director, Melvin & Bren Simon Digestive Diseases Center
Lincy Foundation Chair in Clinical Gastroenterology
Health Sciences Clinical Professor of Medicine
David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA

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