Cover photo for Louise C Justin Sabol Rubel's Obituary
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Louise C Justin Sabol Rubel

November 16, 1933 — March 12, 2017

             Louise Carol Justin Sabol Rubel, MD, FACS 1933-2017   Louise Rubel, 83, passed away quietly on the family farm in Perkasie, Pa surrounded by her daughters and husband on March 12, 2017 after a 13 month battle with cancer.  Louise’s legacy includes a large and loving family consisting of her husband, Walter Lee Rubel, daughters Dr. Jennifer (Brad Blumberg) Sabol and Dr. Carolyn (Scott) Repke, her son Scott (Gina) Rubel and her sister Diana Nadanyi.  Her grandchildren include Rachel, Lauren, John and Matthew Repke, Cal and Ava Blumberg, and Gianna and Ford Rubel.  She joins her parents Dr. Peter and Alma (Bachman) Justin as well as Dr. John Sabol (her first husband) who predeceased her.   Born in Pottsville, Pa, Louise grew up as a Mt. Carmel, PA native with the exception of a short stint during WWII when she lived in Denver as her father, Dr. Peter Alfred Justin, was deployed to Iwo Jima.  Upon returning to Pennsylvania as a teen, she became Miss Mt. Carmel and was runner up for Laurel Queen of Pennsylvania.   Life was not to be about beauty pageants, however, as she also grew up watching her father practice family medicine out of an office attached to their home. She watched him respond to patients day and night, and frequently made house calls with him and his “little black bag.” Family vacations were often skipped when someone became acutely ill and needed his undivided attention. This compassion made quite an impact, and she aspired to follow in her father’s footsteps and pursue medicine. Despite her high school principal telling her that college was not necessary for her to find a good husband - and that women did not pursue a career in medicine - she persevered, and matriculated at Penn State in 1951.   At Penn State, she was one of only two women in the Pre-Med program that year and had no female mentors to guide her.   Her fear of failing led her to repeat every chemistry experiment three times until one professor told her she was more accurate that the US Bureau of Weights and Measures. Despite some professors who let it be known a women should not be in medicine taking the spot of a man, Louise showed she was a determined young woman with tremendous talent and grit.  She graduated with a Bachelor’s of Science in Pre-medicine in 1955. During her days at University Park, she was a member of the Penn State Women’s Debate Team and Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority, a La Vie Belle, and a member of the Homecoming Court her senior year and a finalist for Miss Penn State.   Louise went on to complete her medical school training at Women’s Medical College in Philadelphia (now Drexel Medical School), graduating in 1959.  She was the first woman to be accepted as an intern at the Geisinger Medical Center the same year and ultimately completed her residency in Ophthalmology at that same institution in 1963.  During that time, she met and married Dr. John Sabol, an orthopedic surgeon, and they finally settled in Williamsport, PA.  The years from 1963 -1970 were happily devoted to raising her daughters and she was ultimate mother, gracious doctor’s wife, and part time model.  This time was too short however as her husband’s unexpected death from cancer at the age of 39 left her with two toddler daughters and a need to resume her career.  She had to be strong once again, pulling herself up to the task of raising her girls as a single mother and passing her medical boards.   Louise returned to work in 1970 as an Associate in the Department of Ophthalmology, becoming the first female surgeon on the staff of Geisinger Medical Center.  Reeducating herself after her absence from medicine, she was ultimately indoctrinated into the American College of Surgeons as a Fellow.  While reestablishing herself in the academic world, she was drawn to Pediatric Ophthalmology and was instrumental in developing this aspect of the department at the Geisinger.  She worked tirelessly to be the very best doctor for her patients and the very best teacher to her residents.  It was not unusual to find her up in the middle on the night with books all over her bed, preparing slides for a lecture that she would give that week. For the residents, she was not only a mentor at work, but often weighed in on personal and family matters when requested.  For her devotion and accomplishments, the Sabol teaching award was named in her honor upon her retirement in 1998, and in 2005 she was presented with her portrait that hangs today on the Pediatric Wall of Fame in the Janet Weis Children’s Hospital.   Her personal life was also full….In 1980 an acquaintance unknowingly reintroduced a figure from her past medical school years, Walter Lee Rubel. Immediately smitten, he happily pursued her until she agreed to expand her family to include him and his son Scott and daughter Gretchen on Sept 11, 1983.   Separated by careers in different cities, they settled on raising their joint family during weekends and holidays in Eagles Mere, Pennsylvania which holds a special spot in both their hearts.  She passionately believed in experiencing life instead of accumulating objects, and taught her family to enjoy travel and recreation.  With her children, she skied the Rockies, and travelled through France, Italy, Greece and Ethiopia, and even had a private audience with the Emperor of Ethiopia at the time. Haile Selassie. During retirement, she convinced Walter to join her on adventures which ranged from safaris in Africa, snorkeling on St. John, climbing glaciers in Alaska, birding in the jungles of Costa Rica and at the age of 78, snorkeling in the Galapagos Islands! Many of their adventures revolved around her passion for golf and they played courses all over the world, including Scotland, Portugal, Ireland and Pebble Beach.  At her home course in Eagles Mere, she won innumerable awards and the Senior Ladies Club Championship, as well as obtaining two elusive “hole in one’s” during her lifetime.   An active member of the Eagles Mere community, Louise also held a position on the board of the Eagles Mere Country Club, including chairing the House and Membership committees, and was a beloved member of the Presbyterian Church, the Sullivan County Republican party, and the local civic club.   She was also passionate about her book club, and her presentations were legendary.  She was a voracious reader and forever the inquisitive student, even after retirement.   The passion and joy with which she lived life will never be forgotten by those who loved and have survived her.  In September 2016, knowing what was to come eventually, her children, son-in laws and grandchildren chose to honor her lifetime achievements by endowing a scholarship at her alma mater Penn State, the Dr. Louise J. Sabol Rubel Scholarship in Pre-medicine.  This was presented to her by the Chairman of the Board of Penn State Ira Lubert on Sept 17, 2016 in a special ceremony at University Park. The scholarship is guided by the Following principles ….     “In a male-dominated profession, Dr. Sabol, throughout her studies and career, faced numerous hurdles because of her gender.  Dr. Sabol strongly believed that happiness comes from pursuing your dreams.  Often telling her daughters that they would find fulfillment in life if their vocation was their avocation, she led by example. Passionate about medicine, she never wavered from her goals and continued throughout her years to inspire others to feel similarly. The Donors hope that this scholarship will aid students who face similar obstacles and demonstrate passion for the acquisition of knowledge to successfully complete their studies in Pre-medicine and continue on to become outstanding physicians and role models. ”   In lieu of flowers which are short-lived, please consider joining us in a contribution to the scholarship so that those generations to come can benefit from her strength and wisdom.   Donations will be received by Penn State Development and Alumni Relations Eberly College of Sciences 430 Thomas Building University Park, Pa.  16802   In the memo line please write SCSS2 – In memory of Louise Justin Sabol Rubel.   Our hearts are broken by her absence, but we are comforted by all of those whose lives she touched along the way. We will all hold her memory close to our hearts, knowing that her legacy lives on.   A celebration of life will be held on July 7th at 3:30 PM at the Presbyterian Church in Eagles Mere, officiated by Rev. John H. Clark Jr., followed by a reception at the Eagles Mere Country Club.           Funeral arrangements are under the direction of the P. Dean Homer Funeral Home, 206 Water St., Dushore, PA 18614             To send condolences or sign the e-guestbook, please go to           To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Louise C Justin Sabol Rubel, please visit our flower store.


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