DR. H.W. Frauenthal is killed by fall

Founder of Hospital for Joint Diseases Drops Seven Stories From Bedroom Window

New York Times

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Dr. Henry W. Frauenthal, noted orthopedic surgeon and founder of the Hospital for Joint Diseases, which he built up from a two-room clinic to the largest institution of the kind in the world, died early yesterday morning in a fall from his bedroom window, on the seventh floor of 18 West Seventieth Street. He would have been 65 years old next Monday.

Chief Medical Examiner Charles Norris assigned his death to "a fall from window due to mental derangement." According to his colleagues at the hospital, Dr. Frauenthal had been overworking and had been in a serious nervous condition for some time. He ceased performing operations about two years ago.

The death occurred in the early hours of the morning, but was not discovered until 7 o'clock, when Miss Evelyn Robeson, night nurse, went to his room. When she found the bed empty and the window open she searched the apartment, arousing the maid, the only other occupant. From the window she saw the body and summoned the police.


An ambulance surgeon from Knickerbocker Hospital said that death had been instantaneous. The police were of the opinion that Dr. Frauenthal had left his bed to open the window for fresh air, lost his balance and tumbled over the sill, which was low. No one witnessed the fall. Mrs. Frauenthal has been seriously ill for some time and is resting up-State. She was notified of her husband's death.

Dr. Frauenthal was born in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., the son of Samuel Frauenthal, a merchant. Graduating from high school there, he entered Lehigh University where he received a degree in analytical chemistry in 1888, providing an unusual background for a surgeon. While in Lehigh he played on the first football team there.

After graduation he was analytical chemist with the Rossie Iron Ore Company of Spragueville, N.Y. During the Winters he studied medicine at Bellevue Hospital Medical College. He received his M.D. degree in 1890 and in the same year became clinical assistant to Dr. Lewis A. Sayre, famed as an orthopedic surgeon. For eleven years he continued this association, then started his own private practice.

Dr. Frauenthal, while still a student had remarked upon the need for a hospital devoted to the treatment of chronic joint diseases. He was convinced that many ailments classified as tubercular were due to other causes.


The beginning of the realization of his dream came in 1904, when he established a clinic at 558 Lexington Avenue, where he practiced his preaching that tubercular joint diseases should be treated with the same care as incipient tuberculosis. He introduced other medical innovations.

His success drew the admiration and support of many friends and in 1906 he was able to expand his clinic.

At 1919 Madison Avenue he took over a hospital building with dispensary and seven beds for patients. The first day eight clinic patients were treated and at the end of the year 1,212 patients had received 9,471 treatments.

The work of the hospital and dispensary became so widely known that before the first six months had elapsed he added the building next door to his institution. The premises were enlarged and improved in 1908 and another building was added. With Dr. Frauenthal as the guiding genius the hospital continued to grow, and in 1914 a new building was erected. More than 48,000 treatments were given during its first year, and the work of the hospital and dispensary has continued to expand.

When news of the death reached the hospital yesterday, the flag was lowered to half staff and a special meeting of the Board of Directors was called, at which resolutions of sympathy were adopted. Similar resolutions were adopted at a meeting of the hospital staff. It was decided to close the dispensary for two days.


In addition to his widow, Dr. Frauenthal is survived by three brothers, Isaac, Isidor, and Hermann; two sisters, Carrie and Rose, and a daughter, Mrs. Natalie Meyer. Members of the family said the surgeon had visited the hospital regularly two hours each day despite his ill health, which, they said, had been more pronounced during the last month.

Isaac Frauenthal said his brother left a personal fortune of about $250,000, which ultimately would go to the hospital. A gift by Alfred Heinsheimer of Kuhn, Loeb, & Co., who recently donated fourteen acres of land and several buildings for a Summer hospital at Far Rockaway, provided a $50,000 yearly income to the hospital, he said. Judge William Biau, a director of the hospital, expressed grief at his friend's death and said he had been responsible for the recent visit here of Dr. Adolf Lorens, Viennese plastic surgeon.

Dr. Frauenthal was a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons, a member of the New York College of Medicine and other medical societies, a member of the Lambs Club, the Inwood Country Club, Rotary, Elks and Mecca Temple.


Funeral services will be tomorrow afternoon at 3 o'clock at the Elks Lodge, 108 West Forty-third Street. Dr. Stephen S. Wise, rabbi of the Free Synagogue, will officiate.

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Encyclopedia Titanica (2003) DR. H.W. Frauenthal is killed by fall (New York Times, Saturday 12th March 1927, ref: #275, published 1 August 2003, generated 26th July 2021 05:16:18 PM); URL : https://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/dr-hw-frauenthal-is-killed-by-fall.html