Henry M. Sobell, MD

Class Year




Posted on: April 11, 2023

Dr. Henry M. Sobell passed away quietly and peacefully at the age of 87. He took his last breath listening to Chopin, surrounded by family.

Henry, affectionately known as Hank, came to Fourth Lake in Lake Luzerne, NY at the age of nine in 1944 with his parents, Addie and Jack Sobell and his grandparents, Ida and Henry.

Hank and his wife, Lourdes, met through close friends in 1958 while he was in medical school and Lourdes was studying to be a concert pianist at the Curtis Institute of Music. They were engaged for three weeks and married for over 64 years.
Born in Los Angeles, CA and raised in Brooklyn, NY, he graduated from Brooklyn Technical High School, Columbia University and the University of Virginia School of Medicine. Instead of pursuing clinical medicine, he and his young family moved to Cambridge where he joined Professor Alex Rich’s Department of Biology at MIT. As a Helen Hay Whitney Postdoctoral Fellow, Hank learned the technique of single-crystal X-ray analysis.

In 1965 he joined the Chemistry Department at the University of Rochester, and was then jointly appointed to the School of Medicine and Dentistry as full professor in both departments. He led a research team for almost 30 years, studying DNA and changes in its physical structure from the interaction of compounds that bind to it. Over the last ten years he published two books explaining his theory of Premeltons in DNA and created a website encompassing his life’s work.

Hank’s passions included doting on his wife, making his children and grandchildren laugh, listening to and playing classical music, taking walks in the woods, building cozy fires in their stone fireplace, seeing dance and music concerts, playing tennis and being a part of the vibrant, multi-generational community of Fourth Lake.

In addition to his wife, Lourdes; Hank is survived by two daughters: Jeanine Sobell Pastore (Ron) and Naomi Sobell Eskenazi (Mike); four sons: David Sobell (Elaine), Jeffrey Sobell (Kyle), Steven Sobell (Kelley) and Bernie Hoecker (Carol); thirteen grandchildren: Merrick, Erika, Aaron, Katrina, Nicole, Don, Sam, Isabel, Nick, Corey, Courtney, Kaitlyn and Amanda; and four great-granddaughters: Brielle, Ava, Collins and Remi.