Innovative Pittsburgh cardiologist was a throwback

Innovative Pittsburgh cardiologist was a throwback

Dr. Seymoure Krause and his wife, Corinne, enjoy a happy moment celebrating their anniversary. (Photo provided by Molly Krause)
Dr. Seymoure Krause and his wife, Corinne, enjoy a happy moment celebrating their anniversary. (Photo provided by Molly Krause)

Despite his innovation, Seymoure Krause is best remembered as traditional. Both to family and colleagues, the venerated cardiologist was a throwback.

“He was one of those old-time doctors,” said his daughter, Barbara Krause.

“He was very intelligent, soft spoken, forthright with patients, which they appreciated, and he was a gentleman,” said Larry Adler, Krause’s cardiology partner since 1963.

Krause died Tuesday, Nov. 3 at his Oakland home. He was 97.

During his seven decades in medicine, Krause was a pioneering practitioner. He organized the first cardiac catheterization laboratory in Western Pennsylvania, established the first Cardiac Intensive Care Unit at Braddock Hospital and shepherded use of remote electrocardiograms (EKGs). He was on faculty at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, head of cardiology at Braddock General Hospital and Homestead Hospital, president of the Heart Association of Western Pennsylvania and a multiple-time grant recipient.

Yet for all his achievements, Krause’s finest accolade was character.

“He was just a healer for the whole family. Whenever he was treating a patient he wouldn’t take just the patient into consideration, he would make sure that the family was brought in and that they understand,” said his daughter. “He and Larry always had the time to talk and pay attention to patients.”

“Patients appreciated us then, and I think they still do,” said Adler, who still practices.

Krause’s concern for people developed at an early age.  Born on July 19, 1918, he was the fifth and youngest child of Samuel and Gizella Krause of Braddock, Pa. Growing up, Krause worked in the family’s clothing store and developed relationships with members of Braddock’s Jewish and non-Jewish communities.

After receiving his bachelor’s and medical degrees from the University of Pittsburgh and beginning an internship at Montefiore Hospital, Krause enlisted as a private in the Army Air Corps. Stationed in Bradenton throughout World War II, Krause never knew why he was sent to Florida.

“It was always a mystery to him, he was very grateful,” said his daughter.

Upon returning north, Krause was introduced to Corinne Azen, then a student at the University of Michigan. Azen, a Pittsburgh native, was the granddaughter of Max Azen — an early 20th-century entrepreneur who the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in 1943 called a “civic leader” and “one of Pittsburgh’s leading furriers.”

For their first date, Krause took Azen to the Civic Light Opera on a Friday night in April 1947. After the performance, the two stood outside. Krause offered Azen a cigarette. Although she accepted, she noticed that he did not smoke.

“She thought my grandpa was the sweetest man ever for carrying around cigarettes just for his date,” said Molly Krause, their granddaughter.

However, on their next date Azen noticed that after Krause offered her a cigarette he smoked one himself. According to family lore, the surprised Azen said, “I thought you didn’t smoke.”   

Krause replied, “I don’t smoke on the Sabbath.”

“The duty to his religion was absolute,” said his daughter, Diane Krause.

From the time that she was a child until last month, Molly Krause remembered seeing her grandfather lay tefillin in his study each morning.

“He could hardly get out of bed and he would be laying tefillin. He was a dignified man, he was just a deeply observant Jew,” said his granddaughter.

Part and parcel of that observance was a commitment to giving.

“He believed very much in tzedakah and giving. Anyone who was selfish, he couldn’t understand that. When I found out that people use the word ‘Jew’ as stingy, I was incredulous because for me, it was all about giving and generosity. That’s what came from my parents —you give to those in need,” said Diane Krause.

Last year, after decades of support from Seymoure and Corinne Krause, Jewish Residential Services announced that its new building, which will house the Sally and Howard Levin Clubhouse and JRS offices, will be called Krause Towers.

In such capacity Krause will continue serving those in need.

That commitment to care is something  Adler insists kept the two cardiologists together for more than 50 years.

“It’s hard sometimes to put a finger on why you relate to people or they relate to you, but mainly it’s because of caring,” he said. “I’ve taught medical students and residents, and the one thing you can’t teach them is caring. You can teach them how to read cardiograms or how to operate, but caring, some of them have it, and some of them don’t. I can count on my hands the ones who had that.”

Krause is survived by his wife of 67 years, Corinne Azen Krause; children Barbara Krause (Larry King) of Shadyside; Dr. Norman Krause (Ann Goodwin) of Ithaca, N.Y.; Kathy Krause of Squirrel Hill; and Dr. Diane Krause (Liz Hellwig) of New Haven, Conn.; and three grandchildren, Spencer, Molly and Mason Krause. Contributions may be made to Jewish Residential Services, 4905 Fifth Ave., Pittsburgh, PA 15213.

Adam Reinherz can be reached at

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