James Bernard (J.B.) Pinski could likely have been a successful physician anywhere.
He picked Kankakee.
Pinski, who died in Kankakee Saturday, Dec. 30, 2017, at the age of 83, was a dermatologist who was one of the pioneers in hair transplantation. Practicing medicine for 50 years in Chicago, Florida and Kankakee, he taught hair transplantation to other dermatologists for 30 years.
He also was one of the first dermatologists to do cosmetic surgery of any kind, at a time when it was viewed as "almost sacrilegious," said his son, Kevin Pinski. Kevin, also a dermatologist, was inspired by his father's work and joined his practice in 1991. His father retired in 2006 at age 72.
His father, Kevin said, also did groundbreaking work with dermabrasion, smoothing out scars and wrinkles and with collagen injections.
Dermatology, Kevin said, is a lot more than just making people look good. It also makes people feel good. In the moments when a dermatologist works on someone who has been in an auto accident, they are not just rebuilding a face, they are rebuilding a life.
Dr. Leslie Lindberg, a fellow Kankakeean who went to medical school at the University of Illinois Medical School in Chicago with Dr. Pinski, described him as a "brilliant guy." He was very successful, Dr. Lindberg said of Dr. Pinski, "the best dermatologist in the Midwest."
He also earned his degree during a different time, Dr. Lindberg said. In the 1950s, every campus was full with GIs who had returned from the war. It was a competitive time.
Dr. Pinski settled in Kankakee, Dr. Lindberg said, in part because the town was then a boomtown. He set up a practice in Meadowview, in the building located just south of the Meadowview Theater. His prescriptions were often filled by nearby pharmacist George Ryan, who would become both a lifelong friend and the governor of Illinois.
"Our kids grew up together," Ryan said. "He was a good father and good family man who had a lot of friends."
The friend who helped bring Dr. Pinski to Kankakee was Bernard Weiner. Weiner would go on to a successful career as the Kankakee County Recorder of Deeds. He had been a fraternity brother of Dr. Pinski's at the University of Illinois in Champaign, where both were members of Sigma Alpha Mu.
Weiner ran into Dr. Pinski at a convention in San Francisco. Dr. Pinski was then in the U.S. Army as chief of dermatology in Heidelberg, Germany. Dr. Pinski told Weiner he was thinking of remaining in the Army and/or remaining in San Francisco. Weiner convinced Dr. Pinski to give Kankakee a look. The town had just lost its dermatologist.
Settling in Kankakee, Dr. Pinski became known as a dedicated family man.
"Family was all important to him," said his wife, Dee Pinski. "He took great pride in his sons and his grandchildren," she said. "They were his trophies."
Pinski had been born Oct. 31, 1934, in New Orleans. He was the son of the late Max and Vera Pinski.
Besides his wife, his survivors include three sons and two daughters-in-law, Kevin and Kim Pinski; David Pinski; and Michael and Michelle Pinski. David is a mortgage banker. Michael is a real estate developer.
"He was a family man first, a physician second and an educator third," Kevin said. Michael remembered him as a kind-hearted man who found good in everything. David said his father would "always go the extra mile for someone."
"If you were his friend, you were his friend forever," Mrs. Pinski said of her husband. Married in 1957, the couple celebrated their 60th anniversary in 2017.
Attorney Greg Morgan, a friend who played golf with Dr. Pinski for 30 years, described him as the type of man who, "If he told you he would do something, he kept his word."
Other survivors include grandchildren Jacob, Morgan, Maxwell, Sophia, Mya, Ava and Ian Pinski; a great-grandson, Knox Douglas Wilson; brother and sister-in-law Ronald and Marcia Pinski; nieces and nephews, Robin and Ross Steiner, Mark Pinski and Amy Pinski; and great-niece Erica Steiner.
He graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Sullivan High School in Chicago and the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, Class of 1955, where he was a member of Sigma Alpha Mu Fraternity, Phi Beta Kappa Society, Bronze Tablet and Omega Beta Pi Society.
At the University of Illinois Medical School in Chicago, Class of 1959, he was a member of the Phi Delta Epsilon, Pi Kappa Epsilon and Alpha Omega Alpha Society. He was associate clinical professor at Northwestern Hospital.
Dr. Pinski had been a featured speaker at national and worldwide dermatology conferences. He authored more than 30 articles, textbook chapters and texts.
Dr. Pinski was voted "One of the Best Doctors in Chicago" numerous times and "Best Doctor" in Chicago Magazine and in America. He was a member of the Chicago Dermatological Society; Noah Worcester Dermatological Society; American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery; American Academy of Dermatology; American Society for Dermatologic Surgery; International Society for Dermatologic Surgery; International Society of Tropical Dermatology; American Medical Association and Chicago Medical Society.
He served on numerous boards and had many honors: Fellow-International College of Surgeons; International Societies of Cosmetic Surgery; Fellow-The Royal Society of Medicine (London, England); Fellow-American Society for Laser Medicine and Surgery; and Fellow-American College of Physicians.
His hobbies included golf, fishing and hunting. He discovered his ability to shoot well while serving in the Army. In 1965, he won the German National Rifle Championship while stationed there with the U.S. Army. He was invited to the 1968 U.S. Olympic Trials.
He was a contributor to the Jewish United Fund and to B'nai B'rith. His father had been the president of the B'nai B'rith lodge in Chicago. One of Dr. Pinski's grandsons, Max Pinski, had been born deaf, his wife said. He attended the Moog School in St. Louis, and Dr. Pinski became a donor there. Later, Max underwent successful surgery at Northwestern.
Dr. Pinski was a guest expert on Chicago television a number of times, discussing the latest in dermatology. He appeared on the Eyewitness News, Today in Chicago and was interviewed by Oprah Winfrey in 1985.
Visitation will be from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 10, at the Clancy-Gernon Funeral Home in Bourbonnais. A memorial service will follow at 1 p.m.
Memorials may be made to Hospice of Kankakee Valley, the Alzheimer's Association, Riverside Medical Center and the American Diabetes Association.