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Founder of area hospitals has died

Three Pinellas hospitals were developed through the entrepreneurship of Dr. Leonard Freed.

Published June 1, 2004

ST. PETERSBURG - Dr. Leonard Freed, a radiologist and founder of three local hospitals, has died.

He died Saturday (May 29, 2004) at Bay Pines VA Medical Center. He was 85.

A physician and entrepreneur, Dr. Freed teamed with other doctors and financiers to develop St. Petersburg General Hospital, Palms of Pasadena Hospital in South Pasadena and the former University Hospital in Seminole.

His wife, Dr. Gloria Green Freed, said she and his friends remember him as a "cigar-chomping" maverick with many talents and an altruistic streak that led him to give away much of his money.

"He made a lot of money, but you wouldn't know it." she said. "He didn't live in any grand manner. He gave a lot of it away."

He donated equipment to hospitals and helped those who couldn't afford their hospital bills.

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., Dr. Freed received his medical training at Middlesex School of Medicine in Boston. His training was interrupted by World War II and service in the Navy.

After finishing two residencies in New York, he eventually came to Tampa, where he was associate radiologist at Tampa Municipal Hospital and developed his taste for cigars.

He came here in 1952, when he was appointed chief radiologist at Mound Park Hospital and his entrepreneurial spirit blossomed.

A witness to atomic bomb testing at Bikini Atoll in the Pacific Ocean during his stint in the Navy, Dr. Freed gathered radiation tools from around the world to treat cancer patients at a St. Petersburg radiology center.

He went on to help develop Palms of Pasadena, his family said, and raised millions of dollars mostly from a group of Philadelphia financiers and bankers to build St. Petersburg General, where he also served as chief of radiology. In the early 1970s, he formed a company with other doctors to build University Hospital.

In addition to his wife, he is survived by two sons, Dr. Frederick, St. Petersburg, and Leonard, Clarksville, Tenn.; a sister, Beatrice Melnick, Cranbury, N.J.; and three grandchildren.

A funeral will be 3 p.m. Wednesday at Beth David South Chapel of David C. Gross Funeral Homes, 6366 Central Ave., St. Petersburg.

The family suggests donations to the Florida Holocaust Museum, 55 Fifth St. S, St. Petersburg, FL 33701 or Hospice of the Florida Suncoast, 300 East Bay Drive, Largo, FL 33770.

Information from Times files was used in this obituary.

[Last modified June 1, 2004, 01:13:47]

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