2011-11-18 / Society

Dr. Jacob Leonard Balser

Dr. Jacob Leonard Balser, retired Columbia dentist, passed away on Friday, November 11, 2011. Funeral services were held at 2:30 p.m. Monday, November 14, 2011, at Dunbar Funeral Home, Devine Street Chapel, with interment following in Beth Shalom Cemetery on Whaley Street.

Dr. Balser was born January 6, 1919, in Chester, the son of the late Abraham and Rebecca Shatenstein Balser. He was predeceased by his brother, Paul Balser and sister, Sylvia Balser Prager.

Dr. Balser received his early education in the Chester Public Schools. He attended Emory University and the Medical College of Virginia from which he received his Doctor of Dental Surgery degree in 1942. He served his country as a captain in the U.S. Army Medical and Dental Corps from 1942-1946 in New Orleans, Louisiana. He was a proud 50 year + member of the American Legion.

In 1946, he entered the private practice of dentistry. He was an early advocate for non-discriminatory practices relating to professional licensure. He loved his chosen profession and his patients and, in return, was loved and respected for his ability, compassion, and “chair-side” manner. He retired in 1988 due to progressive difficulties with his vision. However, he remained a voracious reader.

Despite valiant efforts by his physicians, he lived in darkness the last months of his life. One of the highlights of his retirement was his membership in the Golden K's (Kiwanis International).

His family was his life, and he was never happier than when surrounded by his family. Unwavering in his love, he was always there for his beloved Iris as she experienced health challenges over the years. Theirs was truly a love story that grew with the passing of time.

He was an angel on earth, adored by his children and grandchildren. His children are forever grateful for the integrity and values which he instilled in them. Always and forever, “ The World’s Best Daddy.”

Survivors include his beloved wife of 66 years, Iris Levy Balser (His Iris); son, Richard Balser and wife, Van, of Chapin; daughter, Susan Balser Berry and husband, Dr. Oscar Berry, of Shreveport, Louisiana.; granddaughters: Michelle Balser Webb and husband, Doug, of Sanford, North Carolina; and Amy Balser Vance and husband, Scott, of Cincinnati, Ohio. His only great- grandson, Griffin Michael Vance, was born on July 29, 2010.

Dr. Balser is also survived by his wife's mother, Mrs. Moe Levy; devoted family members: Gloria and Harold Rittenberg and Ben and Arlene Pearlstine; nieces and nephews, Dr. Ira Pearlstine and wife, Amy; Terri Pearlstine Hodges and husband, Robert; Jerry Rittenberg and wife, Susan; and Eileen Rittenberg; Paula Prager; and Dr. Robert Prager and wife, Beverly.

Honoring Dr. Balser as pallbearers were Dr. Hal Croswell, Dr. Melton Stuckey, Anthony Bates, Toby Drucker; and nephews: Dr. Ira Pearlstine, Jerry Rittenberg, and Robert Hodges. Serving as honorary pallbearers were Dr. Barry Feldman, Dr. Charles Peebles, Dr. Edgar Peacock, Dr. Greg McKenzie, Sherwood Stark, members of the Golden K’s and the American Legion Post 6.

Special gratitude goes to his physicians: Dr. Hal Croswell, Dr. Barry Feldman, Dr. Leslie Stuck, Dr. Melton Stuckey, and Dr. Phillip Kinder. The family thanks his caregivers over the last two years: Kim, Gwen, Anthony, Barbara, Gina, Neemah, Roz, Mary, and Vickie. They have treated him with caring and respect as if he were their own.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to Beth Shalom Synagogue, 5827 N. Trenholm Road, Columbia, SC 29206 or the charity of one's choice.

Please sign the online guestbook at www.dunbarfunerals.com.

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