Charles Stern

Published 10:46 am Monday, January 22, 2024

Dec. 17, 1928 – Jan. 17, 2024

DALLAS, TX – Charles Stern passed away at home in Dallas, TX at the age of 95. Born in Shreveport, LA in 1928, Charles was the son of Sam and Rachel (Garber) Stern. His parents were Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe. The fourth of six children, as the first-born son, Charles was known as Sonny to his family. A child of the depression, Charles’ family was impoverished, but Charles’ intelligence and drive were recognized early on by Rabbi Brenner of Agudath Achim, who wanted him to become a rabbi, and by a benefactor, Mrs. Pauline Rubenstein, who encouraged him to attend college.

Charles began working as a young boy with a paper route, but still skipped a year in school and graduated from Byrd High School in 1945 at the age of 16. He studied at Louisiana Tech for three years before entering LSU Medical School in 1948, still just 19 years old. He regretted for much of his life that he never earned his Bachelor’s degree, an omission that was corrected when Louisiana Tech evaluated his medical school transcript and granted him a degree in 2011.

Email newsletter signup

Charles graduated with his MD degree in 1952 and began a family practice residency at Lafayette, Louisiana’s Charity Hospital which ended when he entered the US Navy in 1954. He was a flight surgeon and served in Korea until he returned to the United States due to an injury to his hand incurred while rescuing an injured pilot. He finished his military service in California at El Toro and then at Oakland Naval Air Base until 1956 when he was discharged to enter a residency in ophthalmology at Tulane University in New Orleans.

In 1955 Charles married Evelyn (Gerry) Stanfield, whom he met while he was in medical school and she was in nursing school in New Orleans. After completing his residency at Tulane, Charles and his family moved to Natchez, MS where he began the private practice of ophthalmology, one he continued for 41 years until his retirement in 2000. During much of this time, Charles was the only Board-certified ophthalmologist in Natchez and the surrounding region. As such, he treated generations of patients. Given the challenging times he lived in, it also meant treating the children of Klan leaders as well as civil rights workers. But he took the greatest satisfaction from the children whose eye muscles he repaired so they lived lives without the burden of strabismus. Everywhere he went in Natchez, Charles encountered patients and it was a point of pride with him that he knew the names of almost all of them.

Charles was an esteemed leader too, serving as the chief of medical staff of two different hospitals, on the board of trustees of both hospitals, as president two different times of the Homochitto Valley Medical Society, and as president of Temple B’nai Israel, among other roles. He was also active in professional organizations including the American Academy of Ophthalmology, the American College of Surgeons, and the Mississippi State Medical Association, and was certified by the American Board of Ophthalmology in 1960. In 2002, Charles and Gerry moved to Dallas.

Charles is survived by his children, David (Allison) Stern of Tampa, FL, Sandra Brackenridge of Corinth, TX, and Steven Stern of Dallas; seven grandchildren, Jennifer Brackenridge Velasco, Caitlin Stern, Rachel Brackenridge, Nathan Stern, Jacob Stern, Jonathan Stern and Eric Stern, and six great-grandchildren, Mason Velasco, Hayden Velasco, Evelin Pires, Sofia Pires, Alexander Stern and Naomi Stern.

The family especially offers its thanks to Kathy Clark, LaSonya Graves, and Tumi Kopano for their loving care during Charles’ last years.