A life in medicine

In Memoriam: George T. Caleel, DO, pioneer of the osteopathic profession

A celebration will honor the life of Dr. Caleel and his contributions to the osteopathic medical profession.

Editor’s note: George T. Caleel, DO, received the AOA’s Great Pioneers in Osteopathic Medicine Award in 2008. His obituary, below, was shared with the AOA.

George T. Caleel, DO, 87, died in his home on February 18, 2017, with his family at his side. He established a remarkable reputation in his 60-year career at Midwestern University/Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine (MWU/CCOM) in Downers Grove, Illinois, where he treated patients and was a professor.

He was born on March 29, 1929, in Detroit, Michigan, to parents Tamer Sarkis and Mary Caleel and came to Chicago in 1951.

Dr. Caleel received his doctorate at what is now MWU/CCOM in 1955, specializing in internal medicine, and later studied the then-cutting-edge specialty of nuclear medicine, receiving his certification at what is now the Oak Ridge Associated Universities. He remained certified in internal medicine, nuclear medicine, and endocrinology.

Dr. Caleel was a true renaissance man of his day, active in many arenas from finance to real estate to medicine, but throughout his extensive career, his true devotion was always to osteopathic medicine. He was vice president for clinical education and a professor of medicine and pharmacology, among many other positions at MWU/CCOM over the past several decades, and was honored many times by the AOA, ultimately being honored with the Great Pioneers in Osteopathic Medicine Award in 2008.

Dr. Caleel’s past positions include vice president of medical affairs for the former Hyde Park and Louise Burg Hospitals; clinical dean at MWU/CCOM, and chairman of the Illinois Medical Disciplinary Board. He was a member of the AOA, the Illinois Osteopathic Medical Society, and the American College of Osteopathic Internists. He was chairman of the AOA Bureau of Osteopathic Education. Dr. Caleel served for many years on the American Osteopathic Board of Nuclear Medicine and the American Osteopathic Board of Internal Medicine as an officer and examiner. Notably, Dr. Caleel was also a consultant in Washington, D.C., during the ’60s and ’70s for the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, the Division of Physician Manpower, and the National Institutes of Health.

Additionally, he was a board member of the Little Company of Mary Hospital and the St. James Hospital Foundation. He was president of the former Oak Brook Library Foundation and served as a trustee of the Village of Oak Brook.

Dr. Caleel is survived by his wife, Rebecca; sons Dr. George Sarkis (Emilee) and Dr. Tamer George (Alta); four grandchildren, Isabella, Elise, Chase, and George Jacob; and a brother, Dr. Richard T. Caleel (Anette).

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in his name to the Infant Welfare Society of Oak Brook, Illinois, and St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital.

A private burial will be held for the family. The family will host a celebration of life at Edgewood Valley Country Club, 7500 Willow Springs Road, La Grange, Illinois, on Sunday, March 5 at 12:30 p.m. Arrangements by Sullivan Funeral Home of Hinsdale.


  1. Paul J. Chase D.O

    Had the pleasure of working with Dr. Caleel on the Board of Nuclear Medicine for many years.He was a gentleman, loyal osteopathic physician and someone you could always learn from. May he Rest In Peace.

  2. Gregory Z Mavian, DO, FACOS

    I had the occasion of seeing Dr Caleel in San Francisco several years ago. I walked up, introduced myself as a graduate of CCOM Class of 1980. He was very receptive and engaging. I told him thank you for being a role model for young physicians in training, and how he was always inspiring and never condescending to students. He and his wife smiled and thanked me for taking the time to say hello. I will always remember that moment.

  3. Kurt Brickner CCOM '83

    I remember him standing in front of our 1983 class at CCOM and stating “I can practice medicine in its entirety with only 5 drugs”
    Ironically, he never told us which 5 he meant. A fantastic physician and mentor. RIP.

  4. Bill Carnett

    Dr. Caleel spoke to our class during orientation, September 1978. Gave the “only 5 drug” line…which is absolutely correct. To a 20 something student, he was very impressive in his tailored suit and impeccable presence. During our 4 years, never really had much contact with him…maybe a lecture or two on diabetes in our 3rd year. However, he was an admirable role model for many CCOM students in the day, so to speak….back when men were men, as they say :) It is always sad to see your mentors “slip off the life raft.” Best wishes to his family and friends.

  5. Roy J. Sartori, D.O., FACOI

    As a proud 1976 graduate of CCOM, I became an osteopathic internist because I wanted to emulate impeccable physicians such as Dr. George T. Caleel and Dr. Ward Perrin, among others. Always dressed in sartorial splender, Dr. Caleel has been a true role model for excellence in osteopathic internal medicine.

  6. John R Wright, D.O. Class of 1977

    Professional, kind, educator, role model. One of two esteemed physicians I had the privilege to be in their presence during medical school training. He was a gentleman and a wonderful human being.

Leave a comment Please see our comment policy