Alfred J. Carlson Jr., 80, of Springfield, a longtime Delaware County pediatrician, died Thursday, May 30, of pneumonia at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.
Born in Camden, he was the son of Alfred J. Sr. and Rose Marie G. Carlson. He graduated from Camden High School and earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from Villanova University in 1961.
Dr. Carlson was the first member of his family to attend college. A hard worker, he paid his way through medical school by operating a cotton candy stand on the boardwalk in Wildwood.
After graduating from Hahnemann Medical School, Dr. Carlson was drafted in 1967 and served in the Navy during the Vietnam War. He was honorably discharged in 1969 with the rank of lieutenant commander. He was awarded the Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal and Ribbon with device, the Vietnam Service Medal with a bronze star, and the Ministry of Health Award, second class.
On returning home from Vietnam, Dr. Carlson became a pediatrician in private practice with offices in Drexel Hill and then Havertown. He practiced for 47 years, treating successive generations of the same families. He retired in 2017.
“He was most knowledgeable and courageous in support of human life, and a compassionate pediatrician who, when he first carefully examined each of our three children as infants, proclaimed each one to be 'perfect.’ What a ‘perfect’ example to look up to,” said Richard Di Stefano of Paoli in an online tribute.
Dr. Carlson also taught from 1997 to 2006. He was awarded the 1997 University of Pennsylvania Medical School Clinical Care Associates Teacher of the Year Award for Pediatrics.
Protection of the unborn was an important value for Dr. Carlson. He was a member of Physicians for Life, an anti-abortion group in Bala Cynwyd. “He was not shy about letting people know where he stood as a physician,” said his son, Alfred J. Carlson III.
Dr. Carlson met Peg Keller on the Wildwood boardwalk when he was 16. They married in 1962.
He enjoyed reading, fishing, and following Philadelphia-area sports, especially Villanova basketball and Phillies baseball.
“He was a wonderful father,” his son said. “He attended as many of our school events as he could. He really valued education because he came from a family that hadn’t gone to college. He was very loving.”
In addition to his wife and son, Dr. Carlson is survived by another son, Phil; a daughter, Peggy Tomassetti; seven grandchildren; and a brother.
A visitation will be held from 9 to 10:15 a.m. Tuesday, June 4, at St. Francis of Assisi Church, 136 Saxer Ave., Springfield, Pa. 19064. A Funeral Mass will be celebrated at 10:30, followed by interment in SS. Peter and Paul Cemetery, Marple Township.