Daniel Jacob Appelrouth, 72, retired rheumatologist, singer and philanthropist, died in Grady Memorial Hospital’s ICU on Thursday, April 7, 2016, after a 2½-month battle that began with a fall from a bike in Amelia Island, Fla., and ended with cardiac failure.
He was born Oct. 2, 1943, in Key West, Fla., where he lived until he was 10 years old. He graduated from Beach High in Miami Beach in 1961 and from the University of Florida in 1965. He went to medical school at the University of Miami, where he did his internship, residency in internal medicine and fellowship in rheumatology.
He was a board-certified rheumatologist. He was on the staffs of Northside Hospital and St. Joseph’s Hospital, where he remained an active staff member serving, on many committees. After practicing north of Atlanta for 25 years, he retired for health reasons.
Dan was a lieutenant commander in the U.S. Navy, serving at the Great Lakes Naval Training Center, north of Chicago, from 1975 to 1977. Asked by young doctors today why he went into the Navy, he would explain he was the last of the Berry Plan doctors. Until the 1980s, all doctors had to serve in the military. After fulfilling his military obligation, he and his wife, Arlene, moved in 1977 to Atlanta, where he became active in many synagogues, serving on the boards of Temple Emanu-El, Temple Beth Tikvah and Congregation Beth Jacob. He was also an active member of Young Israel of Toco Hills.
He was passionately interested in helping the poor. He founded the Atlanta Hunger Relief Fund and single-handedly raised more than $180,000. For many years he was chairman of the Atlanta Hunger Walk. He loved to sing, and many people remember him as a lay cantor. In his beautiful baritone voice, he chanted songs and prayers and joyfully shared the bimah with his lifelong friend, Rabbi Donald Tam.
He gave concerts in retirement centers, asking for an honorarium to add to his hunger fund. He made four CDs, selling them and putting every cent into the hunger fund. He had a classically trained voice but continued taking voice lessons until a few months before his death. Dan worked to challenge himself, always perfecting new music and seeking out voice teachers to help him improve.
Dan coached his children’s sports teams at the Marcus Jewish Community Center in Dunwoody and was a camp doctor at Camp Barney Medintz. He was a docent at the Breman Museum and every Friday visited Jewish patients at Emory as part of the Bikur Cholim Committee of Jewish Family & Career Services.
When Dan heard about people who were home-bound because of illness, he frequently called to ask whether he could stop by to perform a private concert.
The day after his death, Rabbi Kalman Rosenbaum, the former headmaster of Torah Day School of Atlanta, called from Israel to express his condolences and say he would never forget Dan’s kindness for singing to Rabbi Rosenbaum’s wife, Malka, when she was dying.
Dan was a man of integrity, good deeds and humility who touched thousands of lives in Atlanta. He helped people who were not his patients navigate the often confusing field of medicine. He went out of his way to help people find jobs. If someone needed advice or a favor, Dan was a go-to person who rarely said no to a request.
Dan ran a pediatric rheumatology clinic and was a frequent lecturer for pharmaceutical companies. He was loved by patients, who might make an appointment because of aching joints but knew they could count on him to be interested in everything about their lives. He was an old-fashioned, holistic doctor who believed that his patients’ healing would be enhanced by his actively listening to them, in addition to his interpretation of their lab results and X-rays.
He was persistent. When he set a goal or intention, he never gave up. As an example, Dan was a season ticket holder for the Atlanta Braves and had a dream of singing the national anthem at a home game. He asked to sing and was turned down. Year after year he called the Braves; it didn’t matter to him that the answer was always no.
For the Braves’ last season at Atlanta Fulton County Stadium, Appelrouth repeated his request one more time. Imagine his delight when he was invited to sing. He invited all his friends to the last day game the Braves played in that stadium. Dan took the microphone and made one more dream come true.
Dan was a devoted husband to Arlene. April 25 would have been their 45th anniversary. He was a proud father of three: Michelle Appelrouth Seltzer of Silver Spring, Md., an antitrust litigator in the Department of Justice; Jed Appelrouth, entrepreneur and founder of Applerouth Tutoring; and Rabbi David Appelrouth, the educational director and assistant rabbi of the Temmy Latner Jewish Community Centre in Toronto.
Dan was a proud grandfather of seven and wrote to them, expressing his desire to be a loving, guiding presence in their lives. He performed a stage monologue as part of a senior acting troupe sponsored by the Jewish Community Center.
Dan loved life and lived his life full on, showing up for his family, his friends, his patients and the greater Atlanta community.
As a young man, he told Arlene he dreamed of being a singer and hoped to earn enough money to become a philanthropist.
He ended each performance with a spirited rendition of “If I Were a Rich Man.” He would put on his favorite black Greek fisherman’s cap and entertain with the words and sounds of that famous song from “Fiddler on the Roof.”
Those who knew him knew he was a rich man: He lived a life filled with love, passion and meaning. His years were meaningful, and he will be mourned by many in addition to his wife, children, relatives and friends.
In addition to his wife, survivors include children Michelle (Yosefi Seltzer), Jed and David (Dalia); grandchildren Raphael Appelrouth, 13, Shua Appelrouth, 11, Elliott Seltzer, 8, Yisroel Meir Appelrouth, 6, Caroline Seltzer 5, Chana Perel Appelrouth, 2, and Nosson Tzvi Appelrouth, 4½ months; brother Mitch Appelrouth (Eileen) of Atlanta, sister-in-law Connie Appelrouth of Virginia, and mother-in-law Mary Caplan of Pembroke Pines, Fla. Dan also leaves behind many cousins and friends.
The funeral will take place Sunday, April 10, at noon in Heritage Hall of Congregation Beth Jacob, 1855 LaVista Road, Toco Hills. Burial will follow at Crest Lawn Memorial Park.
A traditional shiva will be observed in his home. Charitable donations may be made to the Atlanta Hunger Relief Fund, 1118 Empire Road NE, Atlanta, GA 30329.