Dr. Ali Kalamchi, of Greenville, Delaware, passed away early on the morning of January 29th, surrounded by his loving wife and five children.
He is survived by Laurie, his wife of 43 years, and his five children: Laith (Amelia), Adam (Bianca), Sarah Putnam (Reed), Tara, and Chris (Laura) along with four beautiful grandchildren: Luma, Auggie, Cash, and Cece. He is also survived by his own five siblings: Hatif, Saib, Suad, Sabah, and Wedad.
Ali was born in Baghdad, Iraq, the son of Abdul Hussein Al-Kalamchi, a lawyer and math professor, and his wife Fatehiya Azawi, whose quiet strength, independence, and lightheartedness defied the expectations of the time. Ali was the eldest and head of the family from the beginning. As a teenager, an underage Ali drove all eight family members jammed into a stick-shift sedan the hilly 16 hours to Beirut for summer holidays.
For high school, Ali attended Baghdad College which was run by the Jesuits of Boston College. His senior yearbook reads: “A lively and spirited youth with a bent towards body-building … he loved all sports and excelled in baseball, track, and basketball. Proficiency in math and physics points towards a career in civil engineering.” Ali was a self-trained nationally-ranked 100m sprinter who was set to run in the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City before Iraq curtailed participation for political reasons.
Following his father’s wishes, Ali declined a scholarship to MIT to remain in Baghdad and pursue a combined university and medical school degree.
As the political winds shifted in the region and as his compulsory military service drew to a close, Ali sought a better life abroad, spending the next several years honing his craft as an Orthopedic Surgeon with specialized fellowships in London, Toronto, Edinburgh, and Hong Kong. In 1977, his career brought him to the A.I. DuPont Institute for Children in Wilmington, Delaware where, while acting as a translator for a young Jordanian patient, he crossed paths with Laurel Melody Campbell, a pediatric nurse originally from Wilmington.
Over the next 46 years, Ali lived the American dream. He and Laurie purchased their ‘forever home’ on Hillside Road where their family lived for over 30 years. Ali continued his love of athletics, alternating between weekly racquetball games and basement Stairmaster sessions. “Dr. K” as he liked to be known, had several other passions, including koi fish, Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, international travel, Las Vegas, and flashy Mercedes convertibles.
Dr. K was a decorated and distinguished surgeon whose career accolades were only rivaled by his running trophies. During a brief sojourn to Cleveland, Ohio, he was both the Chief of Pediatric Orthopedics at Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital and the Chief of Orthopedics at Case Western Reserve University Hospital. Upon returning to Wilmington in 1985, Ali built a thriving private practice where he was routinely stopped in the community by grateful patients who thanked him for the transformative impact that his care had on their lives. For over a decade, Ali was also a Board Examiner for the American Board of Orthopedic Surgeons.
Above all else, his true passion was his family. As you remember Ali, he would like nothing more than for you to pause and be grateful for your own loved ones.
His family will deeply miss his spirited but off-key birthday serenades, perfectly circular omelets, unique idioms, inability for subtlety, and love for surprises.
For the final year of his life, Ali was cared for by the staff of the Stonegates Health Center. Their kindness, compassion, and good humor allowed him the comfort, dignity, and grace he deserved; and for this, his family will be forever grateful.
Friends may call on Monday, February 5, 2024 from 10:00-11:00 a.m. at the McCrery & Harra Funeral Home, 3924 Concord Pike (Rt. 202 South of Silverside Road), Wilmington, DE 19803 where a service will begin at 11:00 a.m. A reception will follow. Burial will be private. Additional parking will be available at the Brandywine YMCA rear parking area with a connecting path to the funeral home. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that contributions be made to the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America: https://alzfdn.org/donate/ in honor of Dr. Ali Kalamchi. To send condolences visit: www.mccreryandharra.com