Alfred Anthony Bove, 81, of Wynnewood, former chief cardiologist at Temple University, team internist for the 76ers, president of the American College of Cardiology, and an expert in diving medicine, died Thursday, Oct. 17, from complications of glioblastoma.
Dr. Bove, a South Philadelphia native who grew up in a working-class Upper Darby family, spent more than 50 years as a cardiologist and professor, working at Temple University Hospital and School of Medicine, and the Mayo Clinic.
A Navy reservist who retired with the rank of captain, Dr. Bove oversaw a military hospital in Saudi Arabia during Operation Desert Storm.
Known as “Fred,” Dr. Bove had a gift for talking to anyone and knowing everybody in his hospital, his family said.
“His patients really loved him and admired him," said his son Andrew. He “knew how to connect with people in a very basic way.”
After graduating from West Catholic High School in 1956, Dr. Bove enrolled at Drexel University and began studying electrical engineering. Soon afterward, his father died of a heart attack.
By the end of college, Dr. Bove, the oldest of six siblings, had decided to apply to medical school. He was on rotation in the Temple emergency room in 1965 when he met a nurse named Sandra Ann Seltzer. They married in 1966 and had three children.
After graduating from Temple with a medical degree, Dr. Bove earned a Ph.D. in physiology there. In 1971, he joined the Navy and became an undersea medical officer, a mission that sparked a lifelong passion for scuba diving and underwater physiology. Dr. Bove went on to research medicine and treatment for divers, coauthoring a definitive textbook on the subject.
For the next 40 years, he and his wife, along with colleagues from Temple, organized an annual course to teach doctors about treating diving-related illnesses. Sandra Bove, a registered nurse, began working at a travel agency so she could oversee arrangements for the course, which usually took place somewhere in the Caribbean, her son recalled.
“It was kind of a family affair,” recalled Andrew Bove, who learned to dive at a young age. “One lucky kid of the three of us would sometimes get to go.… I learned to dive when I was like 14, and that’s been passed down. My nephew learned to dive at … 10.”
Dr. Bove was devoted to family and always made time for gatherings with his siblings, his son said. But "I never really knew him to take a vacation just for the sake of vacation.… He was always working, and everything was purposeful.”
Dr. Bove ran 25 marathons and did the Broad Street Run about 20 times, his son said. “Running is practicing what I preach in heart health,” Dr. Bove told a patient who wrote an Inquirer column about him upon his retirement.
At Temple, Dr. Bove served twice as chief of cardiology and as associate dean. For more than a decade, every hospital in Philadelphia had a heart failure and transplant subsection headed by a physician or trainee mentored by Dr. Bove, colleagues at Temple University have said.
In 1981, Dr. Bove moved his family to Minnesota, where he worked as a professor of medicine and consultant in cardiovascular disease at the Mayo Clinic. After several years, he returned to Temple and the family came back to Philadelphia. Another new opportunity found Dr. Bove then: He became the Sixers team internist, attending home games as doctor for 21 years.
During the Gulf War, with children in college, Dr. Bove took a break from work for his military service, something he remained proud of, his son said.
Dr. Bove published more than 200 research papers and authored texts on topics including coronary disease and exercise medicine, according to his family and colleagues. He served as president of the American College of Cardiology from 2010 to 2011.
“Aside from his obvious talent as a cardiologist and an investigator, Fred was a spectacular human being and a bit of a Renaissance man who was as enthusiastic about deep sea diving as he was cardiology,” said Dr. Anthony N. DeMaria in a statement from colleagues at the college.
When a portrait of Dr. Bove was installed at Temple in 2015, he said he’d had the chance to “learn and contribute” at Temple: “I like to compare what I do to jump-starting a car — I get to jump-start people into their careers."
Dr. Bove was diagnosed with glioblastoma in December 2015 after noticing his own symptoms of a brain tumor. He continued working until 2017.
“He was the kind of guy, you just knew he would never retire as long as he was capable of working,” said Andrew Bove. “He was still active in various things, even when he was ill.… He was a guy who liked to work; that’s just kind of where he found meaning."
In addition to his wife and son, Dr. Bove is survived by daughter Jacqueline; two sisters; a brother; and three grandchildren. A son, Christopher, died earlier.
Relatives and friends are invited to a viewing on at 9 a.m. Tuesday, Oct. 22, with a Funeral Mass to follow at 11, at St. John Vianney Church, 350 Conshohocken State Rd., Gladwyne. Burial will be private.
Donations may be made to the American College of Cardiology Foundation at https://www.acc.org/about-acc/support-the-acc or to Temple University’s Alfred A. Bove, MD, Ph.D. Lecture by mail to Temple Health Institutional Advancement, c/o Katie Beddis, Box 827651, Philadelphia, Pa. 19182 or at giving.temple.edu/GiveToBove.