Burton C. D’Lugoff
Retired internist and addiction specialist was a co-founder of the Village Gate in Greenwich Village
Dr. Burton C. D’Lugoff, a retired internist and addiction specialist who was the former director of outpatient addiction services at the Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center and a co-founder of the Village Gate nightclub in New York City, died Nov. 25 of multiple organ failure at Sinai Hospital.
He was 89.
“Burt was bigger than life as a person and quite an amazing man. He was brilliant in so many things and more than you can imagine” said Dr. Jerry Lowenstein, a New York City nephrologist who has known Dr. D’Lugoff since 1953.
“He read voraciously and was continually thinking of new ideas. He always had a million ideas and thoughts and was a man of many interests,” he said. “He was always reading newspapers, books and magazines.”
The son of Raphael D’Lugoff, a sewing machine repairman, and Rachel D’Lugoff, a homemaker, Burton Charles D’Lugoff was born and raised in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he graduated from Brooklyn Technical High School.
After earning a bachelor’s degree from New York University, Dr. D’Lugoff worked as a reporter for the newspapers PM and The Compass.
“These were liberal New York City newspapers, and he figured he didn’t have much of a future in journalism,” Dr. Lowenstein said. “After serving in the Army as a medic in the early 1950s, he decided on pursing a medical career and entered New York University.”
Dr. Lowenstein said he first met Dr. D’Lugoff when their class was required to listen to a lecture by a dean on medical ethics.
“It was a really bad lecture, and I could see Burt in the last row shaking his head back and forth. I felt the same way, and we then went out for coffee,” he said. “I realized then we were both on the same page, but he was pages ahead of me.”
In addition to being medical school colleagues, the two men also shared a deep interest in folk music.
“I was learning the five-string banjo, and we’d go to the East River behind the medical school at lunchtime and play and sing,” Dr. Lowenstein said.
While still a medical school student, Dr. D’Lugoff collaborated with his friend, Bob Nemeroff, a composer, and together they wrote “Cindy, Oh Cindy,” which became a hit for The Tarriers, a folk group, in 1956.
Dr. D’Lugoff was the best man at Mr. Nemeroff’s wedding to Lorraine Hansberry, the playwright and author of “A Raisin in the Sun,” which won the New York Drama Critics Award in 1959.
After graduating from medical school in 1957, he completed an internship and residency in internal medicine at Johns Hopkins.
He and his brother, Art D’Lugoff, produced a benefit concert to help raise funds for Pete Seeger, the legendary folk singer, who had been blacklisted in the late 1950s by the House Un-American Activities Committee. That concert, proved to be the inspiration for what became the Village Gate.
The two brothers opened the Village Gate in Greenwich Village in 1958, which in its early days was a major venue for folk artists, and later such notable jazz greats as Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie, Dave Brubeck and Nina Simone.
Other musicians who played the Village Gate included Jimi Hendrix, the Velvet Underground, Aretha Franklin and Herbie Mann.
While his brother remained as CEO of the business, Dr. D’Lugoff remained behind the scenes overseeing its finances until it closed in 1994.
Dr. D’Lugoff left New York city in 1971 when he joined the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and assumed the position of director of outpatient services at what was then Baltimore City Hospitals.
When Hopkins took over Baltimore City Hospitals in 1984, which it renamed Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, he played a key role in implementing strategies that were critical to its growth and resulted in making it a center for clinical care and medical research.
An addiction specialist who was director of outpatient services, Dr. D’Lugoff “set out to develop a network of outpatient clinics outside of East Baltimore in areas where residents had higher incomes and better health insurance coverage,” his son, Daniel R. D’Lugoff, of Boston, wrote in a biographical profile of his father.
“Staffed by Hopkins-trained physicians, the clinics were able to generate a flow of paying patients to the hospital,” he wrote.
He also helped develop a small local HMO, CareFirst, which was later sold to Blue Cross Blue Shield of Maryland.
In recognition of his work at Hopkins Bayview, its outpatient center is named for him and his portrait hangs in its lobby.
The former Brooklandville resident, who moved to the Springwell Senior Living Community in Mount Washington in 2014, retired from Hopkins Bayview in 2015.
In 1981, he married Marion Isaacs, a nurse he had met when both were working in Lower Manhattan at Gouverneur Hospital, which is affiliated with the New York University’s School of Medicine.
She moved to Baltimore in 1979 when she joined the Hopkins medical school faculty and in 1984 took over operation of the nursing school’s community outreach effort.
In 1994, she founded the Lillian D. Wald Community Nursing Center at Rutland Avenue and Federal Street, a free health clinic that grew to four satellite branches and treated about 2,000 families a year.
She died in 2005.
David C. Schwartz, a Lutherville businessman, was a friend of Dr. D’Lugoff’s for 30 years.
“I joined Beth Am Congregation about 30 years ago, and Burt was already a member,” Mr. Schwartz said.
“Older people like Burt have wisdom, culture, brilliance and ... selflessness. We’d meet for coffee at Starbucks in Pikesville or Barnes and Noble in Woodholme to discuss the cultural scene, politics or whatever,” he said.
“He was just a marvelous, marvelous individual, and we became the closest and best of friends,” Mr. Schwartz said. “Burt was a visionary who savored and treasured every bit of life’s beauty.”
Dr. D’Lugoff founded a discussion group at Springwell that considered a wide range of topics, from President Donald Trump to the significance of dreams, family members said.
He enjoyed singing, food, reading mysteries, and talking about politics and world affairs.
Services were held Nov. 28 at Beth Am Congregation.
In addition to his son, Dr. D’Lugoff is survived by a daughter, Sarah Rachel D’Lugoff of Spring Hill, N.C.