Pikesville resident Barbara Donick was visiting her daughter, Dr. Suzi Seigel, in Chicago last year when a representative of the American Friends of the Magen David Adom (AFMDA) stopped by to talk to them about the organization that many call Israel’s Red Cross.
Donick hadn’t heard of Magen David Adom before but was instantly taken by the organization and its mission.
“I have relatives in Israel and I love Israel, and I like to help where I can,” she said.
It was also an organization she knew her husband, Irv, a Holocaust survivor who went on to become a podiatrist in Baltimore and who passed away in August 2020, would have appreciated. When she learned the AFMDA was fundraising for a medicycle — or more specifically, a Suzuki V-Strom 650 Medicycle — Donick and her family decided to purchase one in memory of her husband.
And when she learned in November that MDA was raising funds for a new emergency vehicle — the ERRV, Emergency Rapid Response Vehicle, which can get to hard-to-reach places on terrain very quickly — she decided to sponsor that as well.
“I thought, my husband’s name is Irv, so I have to do this,” she said.
Irvin Donick was born in Poland in 1937 and spent part of his childhood in hiding during the years of World War II and the Holocaust. After the war, he and his family moved to Baltimore. In 10th grade, he met classmate Barbara Glassman, who would go on to become his wife of more than 60 years.
The couple are parents to three adult children — Debby, Richard and Suzi — as well as numerous grandchildren, and were members of Congregation Beth El, which Barbara Donick continues to be a part of today.
Donick, a longtime educator who specialized in teaching children with dyslexia, recalled that when her husband was studying podiatry, there wasn’t a support network for the field in Maryland. He had to go to Detroit for training and a residency for several months, leaving his wife and baby daughter to do so; they moved in with her parents during that time.
It proved fruitful, as he made a “big difference” in bringing podiatry as a medical specialty to Baltimore, said his wife, noting that at the time, “podiatrists didn’t have hospital privileges.”
Donick was credited with starting that development in Baltimore, as well as a residency program for podiatry at Maryland General Hospital, now the University of Maryland Medical Center Midtown Campus. He also helped arrange for insurance to cover podiatry-related issues, and in later years, served as chief of podiatry at the Greater Baltimore Medical Center.
‘ERRV for her Irv’
Donick said her husband was quite a persuasive man. For instance, he had a group of eight or 10 friends who would meet up with him every Friday morning for breakfast at a bagel shop he liked. It wasn’t that they were all so interested in the bagels, but that they simply wanted to spend time with him.
Donick recounted his life in a memoir, “Somewhere Between Excellent and Perfect: The Remarkable Life of Dr. Irvin I. Donick.” The title was chosen by his family because when anyone would ask him how he was doing, he would reply: “Somewhere between excellent and perfect.”
The couple traveled extensively and lived in Jerusalem for a year when Irv was a visiting professor at Hadassah Hospital. That year also coincided with Barbara’s 50th birthday; to celebrate, he flew in several family members, including their children, to surprise her.
“It was fantastic,” recalled Barbara Donick, noting that she will soon be 84 years young.
As for AFMDA, its CEO Catherine Reed said “since learning about MDA, she and her children have become passionate supporters. Not only is Barbara now sponsoring an ‘ERRV for her Irv,’ her second vehicle in just a couple of years, but she opened her home to encourage others to learn about our lifesaving work. We are grateful for her commitment to the people of Israel.”
Asked about what her husband might have thought about the medicycle and the “ERRV,” Barbara Donick said simply: “I think he would have loved this.”