Remembering Dr. Jack Shiller

Dr. Jack Shiller — pediatrician to generations of Westport Baby Boom boys and girls, co-founder of Willows Pediatrics, and founder of the Westport Weston Health District — died Wednesday in his home in Redding. He was 92 years old.

The Brooklyn native graduated from the University of North Carolina in 1947, and Columbia Medical School in 1952.

Dr. Shiller received the Connecticut Veterans Wartime Service Medal for his service in the Air Force as captain of the 47th tactical hospital stationed at Sculthorpe, England.

After training at Bellevue Hospital and The Babies Hospital in New York City, he was board certified in pediatrics.

He established his own private practice in Westport before forming Willows Pediatric Group in 1973 with Dr. Albert Beasley. Dr. Beasley died this past June.

Dr. Jack Shiller

He was active on the staff of Norwalk Hospital, where he started the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, and later served as interim chief of pediatrics. He continued academic ties to Babies Hospital as teaching staff.

He was an advocate of equal representation, disease prevention, and education during and after helping to form the Westport-Weston Health District in 1967. It was the first of 20 such districts in the state.

He was named director of the district he formed, and was named the Champion of Immunization by the Governor of Connecticut. 

Dr. Shiller was proud of his published works — especially “Childhood Illness and Childhood Injury: A Commonsense Approach,” which helped new parents recognize and treat common childhood ailments and injuries at home. This practical resource remains relevant today.

He is survived by daughter Bethanne McCarthy (husband Steven) of Savannah, Georgia; sons Stephen (Emily) of Ridgefield and son Andrew David (Raaya) of Jerusalem, Israel; brother Marvin (Annie) of Manhattan, and grandchildren Shane, Krystle, Jessica, Matthew, Samantha and Naama.

A graveside funeral service will be held tomorrow (Sunday, January 17), at Mt. Hebron Cemetery in New York. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, only immediate family will be in attendance.

In lieu of flowers, donations in the name of Dr. Jack Shiller can be made to Shriners Hospitals for Children.

(Hat tip: Dick Lowenstein)

15 responses to “Remembering Dr. Jack Shiller

  1. If you had a fever, Dr. Shiller told your mom: “Keep him cool!”

  2. My kids benefited from all the institutions he created: the Willows, the NiCU, the Health District. He is truly a man who planted trees for later travelers to enjoy the shades.

    RIP, Dr. Shiller.

  3. Vivianne Pommier

    A wonderful doctor, and my condolences and prayers for the family.

  4. My pediatrician, my first employer, and a life-long family friend. Always had a smile. He will be missed.

  5. Lori & John Balsamo

    What an impressive man! You are all in our thoughts. We love you!

  6. My pediatrician. Nice man. Condolences to his family.

  7. Such a wonderful doc and person. He told me the day I beat him at arm wrestling would be the sign I was ready to move on to a doctor for “grown ups”. Son of a gun- at 21 I was still his patient… never could defeat him!😁

  8. If memory serves, Jack Shiller lived on Terhune Drive — his house backed against a lot off the cul-de-sac at the end of Burr Farms Road, squarely astride the natural route of my walk to Staples High School. (The thought of walking an extra mile down Burr Farms to Long Lots, then back north up North Avenue to Staples was too absurd even to contemplate!) The first day of sophomore year, I set out to explore the way. On reaching the boundary of Shiller’s property, I was startled to see a small sign facing me — clearly, I was not the first Staples student to attempt to use this shortcut. I expected to see a stern “No Trespassing” message. As I got close enough to read it, I was relieved to see that it said only “Please keep off the grass.” Over the years, I would occasionally encounter Dr Shiller watering his lawn as I crossed over his property (always on the path at the edge of the lawn, to be sure!). He would give me a friendly wave and a smile. A true gentleman and friend to the children of Westport!

  9. Dr. Schiller was a remarkable man and incredible doctor. At a Staples football game, years ago, a player was hit hard. Schiller saw something, ran to the field and diagnosed a ruptured spleen, saving his life. He “fired” me from his practice when I turned 15 and knowing my interest in American hisitory, he gave me some authentic Confederate currency and coins. He was a member of ‘The Jazz Doctors”, a music group of Doctors. In high school, my “rock band” (we were awful) had a concert at the YMCA. Dr.Schiller loaned me his drum set for the gig. Amazing. The Willows Pediatric Group is just one obvious legacy. Those of us who were his patients, those of us who know how above and beyond he went in the service of our community, we are his living legacies. Prayers up for him and for his family.
    Gratefully and with deep respect,
    Scott Bryce

  10. My newest grandson Jake, born December 24, 2020 to my daughter Betty and her husband, who now live in Weston, is the newest patient at Willows Pediatric — where she was once a patient! My pediatrician was Neil Lebhar — and my children saw Jack Schiller, Al Beasley, and Peter Czuczka, whose daughter Dana is a lactation expert with a practice in Westport. It’s a wonderful legacy of care that runs through generations of Westporters, and into the future.

  11. Eric Buchroeder SHS ‘70

    I am very grateful to Dr. Shiller because he saved my life. I was 15 and was stung by a yellow jacket and immediately went into serious anaphylactic shock. He told me afterward that my reaction was so vicious that he wasn’t sure I would make it. Obviously I did. Bedford Falls had George Bailey and Westport had Dr. Shiller. Bravo to a life well lived!!!!

  12. Melinda Hemson

    I am so sad to hear of Dr. Shiller’s passing. He was a good friend of my grandfather’s and was doctor to my 3 youngest aunts and then my doctor as well as my sister’s when she was born 16 years after me. When I was 19, I came down with a mysterious illness that turned out to be pancreatitis, He knew I had to be admitted to the hospital right away but he didn’t take the insurance I had through my new “big girl” job so he knew my insurance wouldn’t pay if he admitted me. He sent me to another doctor in the complex who would technically be my doctor during my hospital stay but Dr. Shiller was there every day to check on me and over saw what the other doctor was doing. He even stopped the doctor from doing an unneeded, experimental procedure that I didn’t need by sitting in my hospital room and refusing to let them take me when the time came. He was an amazing man who genuinely cared about his patients and treated them with kindness and respect.

  13. Michael A. Stamm

    Dr. Shiller was my next-door neighbor and pediatrician throughout my childhood. He was my role-model in so many ways and was a major influence in my choice to pursue medicine as a career. He was also a role model as a father. He was strict with his children but kind and respectful, and his kids adored him. He saw us through some very difficult times including my parent’s divorce and the loss of my father. He was also skilled at woodworking which became a passion of mine. I’m so sorry to hear of passing; my sincere condolences to his family.

  14. since you are still in shloshim i can still wish you

    May you know only simcha in your life!

    Donny Gordon

  15. Arthene Hammerman

    I’m grateful that he was my childhood doctor – always kind, funny and helpful. I loved gong to his office as a child with the furniture just my size, the gigantic fish tank with blue light, and tons of books and magazines to peruse. Kind condolences to his family.