Dr. Douglas M. Enoch, a neurosurgeon and a fan of classical music and opera who performed with choral groups, died Nov. 14 of complications from a recent fall, his wife said. He was 81.
Shortly after starting his medical practice in Sacramento in 1967, Dr. Enoch left for two years to serve as a commander in the Navy Medical Corps. He returned in 1970 and spent more than two decades as a top neurosurgeon who served on the staffs at Mercy, Sutter and Roseville Community hospitals and was an assistant professor at UC Davis Medical School.
He was a past president of the California Association of Neurological Surgeons and a founding member of the Sacramento Neurological Society. In 1989, he accepted an invitation to Moscow to speak at the Burdenko Institute, a prestigious neurosurgery research center in Russia.
In addition to neurosurgery, Dr. Enoch’s passion in life was music. Raised in the Midwest listening to classical music, he played first-chair clarinet in the Illinois State Band in high school and considered a professional career in music before choosing medicine, his wife said.
He pursued music as a bass-baritone in the James Mitchell Chorale, a former chorus of operatic singers who toured and performed at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris and top concert halls throughout Europe. He also entertained audiences in less formal settings as a member of the Sacramento Capitolaires Barbershop Chorus.
“From the day I met him, I don’t think there was a day that he didn’t sing in the shower,” his wife Sylvia said. “If there was a piano bar he’d be there – not drinking, but singing. He just loved to sing.”
Born in 1933 in Waukegan, Ill., Dr. Enoch graduated and earned a medical degree from Northwestern University. He completed a neurosurgery residency at the Mayo Clinic and a master’s degree at University of Minnesota.
He supported classical performing arts as a board member of the Sacramento Symphony, the Sacramento Opera and the Sacramento Region Performing Arts Alliance. In addition, he was active in Rotary Club of Sacramento and was an Eddie Mulligan Fellow and Paul Harris Fellow.
An outdoorsman and adventurer, he hunted deer and elk in Montana and enjoyed fly fishing in the United States and Canada. For many years, he water-skied with friends on Wednesdays at Folsom Lake and hit the slopes at Northstar resort.
He piloted private planes as a volunteer with the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Air Squadron. An avid sailor, he captained charter boats on voyages to the Greek islands, Tonga, the San Juan Islands and the Caribbean.
“He didn’t waste any heartbeats,” said Frank Palumbo, a neurosurgeon and friend. “He was always very busy and very active. He was always interested and interesting.”
In addition to his wife of 38 years, Dr. Enoch is survived by his stepson Mark Bliss and two grandchildren.
No service is planned. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Sacramento SPCA, 6201 Florin-Perkins Road, Sacramento, CA 95828, or www.sspca.org.
Call The Bee’s Robert D. Dávila, (916) 321-1077. Follow him on Twitter @Bob_Davila.