100-year-old doctor still working at Mass General Hospital



After decades of work at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, Dr. Walter Guralnick cut back. He’s now in the office just three days a week. It’s an achievement second only perhaps to his age. In November, he turned 100 years old.

Guralnick said, “I never thought about the years that much.”

He was born in 1916 and grew up in Boston. His father was a pediatrician.

Mass General Hospital

Guralnick said, “One time I remember him renting a sleigh so he could make a house call.”

He would follow a similar path, graduating from Harvard School of Dental Medicine. In 1941, he became a resident at Boston City Hospital. The following year, he married his wife, Betty, just before reporting for duty in World War II.

After the war, Guralnick went on to lead the hospital’s Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery for 17 years. He pushed for his dental residents to also have medical degrees.

Mass General Hospital

Dr. Leonard Kaban was one of those residents. Kaban said, “He had very high standards and he took you to account if you weren’t prepared.”

Guralnick still mentors residents. He no longer practices. When he talks about his legacy, he says it is the people who come after him and build on the work he started.

He said, “If in fact you think it all ended with you, then you’re kidding yourself or you’re an idiot.”

As for what’s next? Decades ago, Guralnick was accepted by Harvard Law School but took a deferment because of the war and his love of surgery. But he says maybe now he’s ready to give it a try.




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