Physician Budd B. Axelrod, 86, who maintained a North Philadelphia family medical practice for 50 years, died Tuesday, May 21, of Parkinson's disease at Virtua Voorhees Hospital.

Dr. Axelrod resided in the independent-living section of Lions Gate, the retirement community in Voorhees.

From 1953 to 2003, Dr. Axelrod ran his office in the 600 block of East Girard Avenue, near what is now the Girard Medical Center, his wife, Jeanette, said in a phone interview.

For a time, she said, he was president of the medical staff at St. Mary's Hospital at Frankford Avenue and Palmer Street, which closed in 1988 and is now an apartment complex for low-income seniors.

When Dr. Axelrod first applied to the hospital, "there was not a Jewish doctor on the staff," his wife said. "But he applied again the next year and became a staff member and, within a few years, became president."

St. Mary's was one of the hospitals on the East Coast staffed by nuns of the Franciscan religious order, and, his wife said, "at the end of his presidency, the nuns of St. Mary's asked him to be head of an ethics and rules committee."

Once a month, she said, he would "go to the mother home, the Franciscan nuns' mother home in Harrisburg," to discuss medical ethics for their hospitals.

Born in the Wynnefield neighborhood of Philadelphia, Dr. Axelrod was a 1944 graduate of Overbrook High School. During World War II, he studied in Army Air Corps flight-training programs in Colorado and Texas.

After earning his bachelor's degree in premed in 1948 at Temple University, Dr. Axelrod graduated from its medical school in 1952.

His wife said they started dating in the fall of 1947. Four years older than she, he was her senior prom date at Overbrook High School in 1948. They were married for 63 years.

"He was a mountain climber, a rugged individual," who didn't hesitate to take her on his adventures.

"He loved trips down the Rio Grande River" on white-water rafts, she said. Once, "he took me when I was pregnant six months."

Dr. Axelrod was a vice president of the Hamilton Bridge Club in Bala Cynwyd and a member of Temple Beth Hillel in Wynnewood.

Besides his wife, Dr. Axelrod is survived by sons Daniel, Lawrence, Kenneth, Michael, Howard, and Nelson; daughters Barbara McFarland and Sheryl Axelrod; two brothers; a sister; and 13 grandchildren.

Funeral services have been held.

Donations may be made at www.parkinson.org.

Condolences may be offered to the family at www.plattmemorial.com.

Contact Walter F. Naedele

at 610-313-8134 or wnaedele@phillynews.com, or follow on Twitter @WNaedele.