Eugene Philip Frenkel, M.D.
August 27, 1929 – June 21, 2019
Eugene P. Frenkel, M.D.
A brilliant light went out on June 21, 2019, with the passing of Dr. Eugene P. Frenkel, an internationally recognized cancer researcher, admired clinician, and educator who pioneered the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center - Division of Hematology and Oncology.
His greatest achievement was in the love he shared with his family. He is survived by his wife of over 60 years, Rhoda S Frenkel and his two children, Lisa and Peter Frenkel and daughter-in-law, Asra Kermani.
Gene was born in Detroit, Michigan, to Eva and David Frenkel. His sister, the late Myrtle Lenhoff adored him, as did her family. Graduating from the University of Michigan Medical School at age 22, he then served as officer and flight surgeon in the US Air Force, stationed in Japan, where he began a life-long love of Asian culture.
In 1962, Gene moved to Dallas and had a 57-year career at UT Southwestern Medical Center filled with impressive achievements. Gene was highly respected as an academic mentor who supported the career development of countless students, residents, fellows, faculty, and colleagues. For decades, he was a medical adviser to thousands of patients who came to depend on his wise counsel.
He served as Chief of the Nuclear Medicine Service at the VA; was appointed a Professor of Clinical Oncology by the American Cancer Society and served on its Texas Board of Directors throughout the 1980s; was President of the Dallas County American Cancer Society and served on its advisory board for 20 years; and provided service to more than two dozen state, national and international professional boards and societies.
Gene’s early research led to the discovery that vitamin B12 deficiencies had a destructive effect on nerve fibers. He furthered medical understanding of drug resistance in patients with breast and genitourinary cancers. Throughout Gene’s career he remained committed to innovative cancer research.
Gene’s high level of compassionate care to decades of grateful patients led to substantial philanthropic support in his honor. An anonymous donor recently established the Eugene P. Frenkel, M.D. Scholars in Clinical Medicine Program, to support the development of the next generation of academic physicians in disciplines related to the care of patients with cancer. In 1988, Patsy and Raymond Nasher, renowned Dallas art collectors, donated the Isaac Witkin sculpture, Sabras, in honor of Drs. Rhoda and Eugene Frenkel, which was placed at the medical school.
The many patients he treated, the generations of medical students who benefited from his rigorous mentoring, physicians and scientists worldwide who were influenced by his seminal work in medical oncology, will honor Gene’s legacy.
While he will be remembered for his outstanding professional contributions, his greatest legacy is the love he gave and received from his heartbroken family. He will be forever missed and never forgotten.
A memorial celebrating his remarkable life will be held at Temple Emanu-El, 8500 Hillcrest Avenue, Dallas, Texas 75225, on Sunday, June 30th, at 2 PM. Instead of flowers, the family requests donations to three of his favorite charities: Dallas Holocaust Museum, Dallas Symphony Orchestra or The Nasher Sculpture Center. An act of kindness toward someone else will further honor his memory.
- Dallas Holocaust Museum, Dallas Symphony Orchestra or The Nasher Sculpture Center.
Sunday, June 30, 2019
Eugene Philip Frenkel, M.D.
January 21, 2021
I know that this is very, very late but I was unaware of Dr. Frenkel's passing. I thought about him this morning and decided to look him up online. I was deeply saddened to hear of his passing because had I known, I would have attended his service and paid my respects. I worked for Gene at UT Southwestern back in the early 2000s and truly enjoyed every day at work because of his spunk and tremendous dedication that he had to his patients and to educating the fellows and interns on his experiences. I will never forget him! God bless your family!
July 3, 2019
Sending the Frenkel family love and strength during this time. Dr. Frenkel was a friendly face and a wealth of knowledge. When I was first hired on as faculty at UTSW, he took time to meet with me to answer questions I had about getting established. Over the years, I would pass him in the parking garage, and he would ask if I was staying out of trouble. : ) I will always remember his warm spirit, kind heart, and perseverance.
July 3, 2019
My heartfelt condolences to Gene's family.
I got to know Dr. Frenkel when I was a research fellow ( in hepatology dept. at UTSWMS) from 1970-72. I was actually a hematologist who had just completed my residency, but attended Hematology Rounds to keep up to date while I did my research which was related to hematology, but in a different department.
I found Gene to be supportive, friendly and the rounds were academically interesting and stimulating. Moreover, Gene was interested in my research and how it was progressing.
During my 46 year career at the University of Manitoba/CancerCare Manitoba, I occasionally saw Gene and renewed my friendship with him at ASH meetings. I am very sorry to see him pass on. He very much held the value of tikun alum.
PS He wants alluded to the fact that he had a Winnipeg, Canada family connection. Can you throw any light on that?
July 1, 2019
Great Scientist, Respetive Guy, Good steak eater and One of my best friend.
He loves pictures of my family in annual new year card.
Rest in peace.
My bery best to you,
June 30, 2019
Am saddened to learn that Eugene is no longer with us. He was a mentor and advocate who strongly impacted my life and career - I will miss him,
with sincere condolences
June 28, 2019
I first met Gene almost 42 years ago when I interviewed for the Hematology Oncology fellowship program at UT
Southwestern with him. He offered me a position and I took it, one of the best decisions I ever made. The division of Hematology Oncology and the fellowship program were small then but it was an incredible learning experience. Gene had us all on a first name basis with the faculty from day 1. What was immediately apparent to me was what an incredible physician and teacher Gene was! I think the best physician I have ever know. Near the end of fellowship, he asked me to join the faculty, but I loved clinical medicine and didn't feel the pull to be a physician scientist so I went into a clinical practice. But 27 years later I returned to UT Southwestern to be Medical Director in the Cancer Center because he told me I had to come back. So I did and then had the great fortune to have my office right next to his and see and talk with him almost every day. He was my teacher, mentor and great friend and my life is so much richer for having known him all these years. I will deeply miss him and I send love and condolences to Rhoda, Peter, Lisa and Asra for their tremendous loss. He was a truly great man and great doctor!
Ken and Sharon Goldberg
June 28, 2019
Almost 20 years ago, Sharon was diagnosed with Stage 4B Lymphoma and given 2 years to live.
A former student referred us to Gene. He immediately offered compassion and hope, and suggested we keep our plans to travel the States seeking opinions on treatment options. We went to the leading Lymphoma experts at Stanford, Sloan Kettering, and MD Andersen whom all questioned why we were there – we had Gene Frenkel. They also recommended hard core CHOP chemotherapy – upon returning, Gene instead suggested trying a new cutting edge monoclonal drug: Rituxan.
Some 70 treatments later, Sharon is doing well: 3 years into retirement from her full-time role as a Preschool Headmistress. Enjoying life, family, and especially her 4 and 2-year old grandchildren —all because of Gene.
We both so looked forward to our visits where his compassion, concern, and personal touch reassured us. I especially enjoyed bantering with him about the latest treatments in Urologic malignancies (he was more than current), or the latest in the field of Lymphoma, which he was well aware of.
Gene looked at Sharon as a total person, asking about all aspects of her life, showing sincere concern and interest in her whole existence. He was not just her Oncologist – he was her doctor, her friend, her rock, her hero.
When Gene told us he was cutting back and sending us to another oncologist, we were devastated. While we knew he would always be keeping an eye on Sharon and watching out for us, we constantly yearned to go back to him.
Gene was the consummate physician in every way. Without a doubt or any exaggeration, I can say that in my 40 years of medicine, I have never encountered anyone who came close to him. Gene was and will always remain the gold standard. He is the role model for how every single person in the medical field should be: curious, kind, gracious, compassionate, loving, caring, and brilliant
For the entire Goldberg family not just a light, but the sun went out for us with his passing.
June 27, 2019
Great man, wonderful teacher and mentor.
Rest in peace.
June 27, 2019
It is with a sad heart that I write in remembrance of my friend, Dr. Gene Frenkel ( he always told me to call him Gene). Although sad, I am so thankful that our paths crossed on this road of life. He always had that contagious smile and ready to tease and at the same time giving advice that you knew beyond a doubt was the most knowledgeable and heartfelt advice he could give!
Dr. Frenkel first came into my life when he treated my mother and then many years later I introduced my best friend to him and he treated her. More recently I know the reason I have my husband today is because Dr. Frenkel, with that smile on his face, stepped into my life once again.
He will be missed by those he treated, taught and loved; however, he will never be forgotten and he will continue to put that smile on our face.
June 26, 2019
A friend, a confidant, mentor, leader, researcher, life coach! Dr. Eugene Frenkel was a joy to work with and someone that I will remember all of my days. He was so kind. He said what he meant and meant what he said, no matter the cause, person or matter... I loved that about him. When he smiled at me, my day instantly became better. The one thing that I remember most from our many talks -- "Do not ever stop working no matter how old you get. What are you going to do when you "retire", sit at home and grow old and not enjoy your life's work? Never stop going and doing that's our life's mission. Never stop giving to others the best that you have to offer." I will truly and respectfully miss my friend, Dr. Frenkel but he told me to call him, Eugene.
June 26, 2019
Dr. Frenkel was not only a superb clinician and scientist, he was a wonderful person. From the first time that we met, when I was an assistant instructor in radiology, he made me feel like a valuable member of the health care team, that my opinion mattered. He always had a smile and a hearty hello when he saw me.
June 26, 2019
Dear Rhoda and the entire Frenkel family,
Alice and I are devastated that a long term commitment out of town will prevent us from attending the memorial service. Gene was a pillar of UT Southwestern. For many years he was literally our only cancer specialist. As a consummate physician he extended thousands of lives, and he comforted thousands of people. As a bold and critical scientist he revealed new aspects of biology. As a polished teacher and trusted advisor he mentored hundreds of young physicians as they launched their careers. As a bridge between UT Southwestern and the larger community of Dallas he brought untold resources to our campus.
Alice and I express our deepest condolences to the Frenkel family, and to all who knew and loved Gene.
June 26, 2019
Ann and I extend our deepest sympathies to Rhoda, Peter and Lisa upon the loss of husband and father Gene. Gene Frenkel was a huge part of my life for the 20 years that we were in Dallas. Gene recruited me to join the faculty in 1975. Rhoda and Gene were so kind to our family when we arrived in unfamiliar territory. Our kids still recall beating the summer heat in the Frenkels' backyard swimming pool. The Division of Hematology-Oncology, although small in those days, was an exciting place to work thanks to Gene's leadership. The highlight was the fellowship training program. Gene was a scholar of great breadth and depth, who imbued the fellows with respect both for the science of hematology-oncology and excellence in clinical care of the patients. Among many other contributions, Gene trained a number of the first-generation DFW heme-onc physicians. He touched so many lives in positive ways: colleagues, patients and trainees alike. His legacy at UT Southwestern and the community is enormous.
June 26, 2019
I was saddened to hear of the death of Dr. Frenkel, who served as a mentor, father figure, and friend to me during my fellowship and thereafter. I could always count on Gene for a word of wisdom or a needed kick in the pants.
My life has been richer because of his influence.
My prayers are with the whole Frenkel family, especially Peter, of whom Gene was understandably proud.
June 25, 2019
I had the privilege of knowing both Drs. Frenkel as I grew up with their daughter Lisa. Their home was filled with compassion and warmth. At the time, I had no idea of his towering influence. He was simply "Lisa's dad" who welcomed me with grace and kindness.
Deepest condolences to Dr. Rhoda, as well as Lisa and Peter. His was a life well-lived, and his memory will be a blessing.
June 25, 2019
I grew up in California but heard Gene’s name often as a child because he was a friend of my father, who was also a hematologist. Little did I know that he would have a major impact on my own life. I first met him when I was an intern on the wards at Parkland, sometime in 1982. He was particularly kind and attentive to me. I told him I wanted a career in science, and he told me of work he was doing with disruption of the blood-brain barrier, in an attempt to treat Tay-Sachs disease. I went away for three years, to New York City; then returned to UTSW as junior faculty in 1986. I met Gene again, more or less as soon as I arrived. I had joined his division. I had lunch with him and told him of my plans. He was a good listener, and over time, when I encountered troubles, he was not only sympathetic but a protector. In 2000, I left UTSW for Scripps and was away eleven years. During this time, my father fell ill with a lymphoma. In telephone calls each Saturday, Gene comforted him in his last months. My father himself never mentioned these discussions, nor did Gene; he was far too discrete to do so. In fact, I only learned of them much later. I was moved by his thoughtfulness... but that is how he always was. He took special care of all the people close to him. He also took it upon himself to see that I returned to Dallas. Betsy, my administrative manager, came to know Gene well herself. Together, they “conspired” to arrange for us to move to Dallas. I did return, and not long afterward, learned I would receive the Nobel Prize. Over a Chinese meal in 2011, I invited Gene and Rhoda to Stockholm, and was delighted when they agreed to come. Witty, insightful and sharp-minded through all the years I knew him, Gene told me about much of his life, from Detroit, to the early days in Dallas and beyond. There was much joy in hearing his stories. He was both a great man and an exemplary man. Like me, many will miss him as long as they live.
June 25, 2019
Upon becoming his admin, he insisted I call him Gene and not Dr. Frenkel - this felt so awkward but he was so sweet so it worked! I appreciate his notes he wrote and how he always made me laugh out loud with what he said or emails he sent! He was a mentor to many in our office and will be surely missed!
June 24, 2019
I am the son of the late Myrtle Lenhoff- Gene Frenkel’s beloved sister.From my earliest days, Uncle Eugene was a dear and special friend.He was kind and compassionate and he was always there to talk to.I feel a deep sense of loss , and I can understand how much his wife Rhoda and his children Peter and Lisa will miss him.I know Gene was a truly gifted teacher and scholar, but he was a wonderful uncle too.Most Blessed Memories to this great man.