Paul Robert Kalkut

Paul Robert Kalkut, a longtime Rye resident, died on May 7, 2024, from complications of Parkinson’s disease. He was 81.   

Published May 16, 2024 3:06 AM
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Paul Robert Kalkut, a longtime Rye resident, died on May 7, 2024, from complications of Parkinson’s disease. He was 81.   

Paul was born on March 21, 1943, to Charlotte and Adolph Kalkut in New York City. He grew up in Washington Heights and Queens where he spent his time on his paper route, playing stick and stoop ball, and cheering for the New York (baseball) Giants.   

Paul went on to Columbia College where, at a mixer with Barnard College students, he met his future wife, Marcia Fierman, whom he married in 1966. He then attended NYU Medical School from which he graduated in 1968. Following medical school, Paul and Marcy moved to Baltimore where Paul completed his internship at Johns Hopkins/Baltimore City Hospital.   

In 1969, Paul and Marcy moved to Lompoc, Calif., where Paul completed his military service with a rank of captain in the Public Health Service. Their daughter Jennifer was born that same year.   

Paul and Marcy returned to New York in 1971 for Paul to begin his ophthalmology residency, and later that year, another daughter, Stefanie, was born.  

Paul and Marcy moved to Rye in 1975, and in that same year Paul opened his private practice in Rye, specializing in disorders of the retina. An early victim of the notorious Indian Village flooding, his initial office in Highland Hall was destroyed just weeks after he moved in. He quickly re-established his office on higher ground at 150 Purchase St., and he remained there (and at an additional office in Mount Kisco) until his retirement in 2013, saving the eyesight of thousands of patients.  

 In 1976, a son, Craig, was born.   

In addition to a flourishing professional career, Paul was a dedicated exercise aficionado.  He started running during his time in California and began with a reasonable smattering of short runs and 5K races. But in 1983, he discovered his true passion when he ran his first NYC Marathon. His family found him afterward, shivering and wrapped in tinfoil by the Museum of Natural History, and happy as a lark.  

By 2003, he had run 86 marathons. He also won his age group in several Rye Turkey Trots.  Certainly, a highlight of being a local business owner was sponsoring the Rye Derby on occasion. He also did three full Ironman races, including the very first one held in Lake Placid. He competed in the first-ever Westchester Triathlon and innumerable other sprints and shorter distances, often winning his age group in those too. All this despite never quite mastering the art of kicking while swimming – something his dedicated niece Catherine and multiple swim coaches tried to rectify to no avail.  

Paul was a deep and early believer in the power of exercise to cure many ills and prescribed it often to both patients and friends as nature’s best medicine. Even as he battled Parkinson’s, he continued to exercise regularly and intensely, no doubt prolonging his life and slowing his symptoms.   

Above all, however, Paul was a true family man.  

He was a stalwart Midland School class father and Little League coach. A particularly proud moment came when he coached his Rye Little League White Sox to the top of the standings two years in a row, and led the Rye all-star team to their best finish in years. This was no accident, it was the result of hours of pouring over draft picks, lineups and statistics.  

Paul loved being active and spent countless hours with all three of his children teaching them how to ski, how to play tennis, and how to swim in the waves of Jones Beach. Quite remarkably, he was home for dinner every night at 6 p.m.   

In later years, he found tremendous joy in doing many of the same activities with his beloved grandchildren: Leo, Eve, and Daniella.   

He faithfully drove Leo to and from all his activities, inculcated him with a love of baseball (both current and classic), played basketball and squash with him, and engaged in fierce political debate. He shared many birthday celebrations with Daniella who was born 69 years and one day after him, and they battled each other and Leo in many cutthroat games of Monopoly. And, for Eve, he would do absolutely anything, from traveling the East Coast searching for treatments to imitating the penguin dance from Mary Poppins.   

Paul was an iconic figure, yet a remarkably gentle and kind soul. His family and friends will miss him terribly.   

Donations in his memory can be made to Chapel Haven Schleifer Center, www.chapelhaven.org.   

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