Featured Ads

It’s been a wonderful life for pediatrician Kurt Metzl

Dr. Kurt Metzl (left) and his wife Marilyn (far right) enjoy family time with sons Jordan, Josh, Jonathan and Jamie.

In 1965, Dr. Kurt Metzl joined the pediatric practice of two other Jewish pediatricians, Dr. Julius Kantor and Dr. Marvin Bordy. And now, after 52 years as a Kansas City pediatrician and during the 70th anniversary of the practice now known as Cradle Through College Care, Dr. Metzl is retiring. His official retirement date is Friday, Dec. 15.

It has been a wonderful life for Dr. Metzl, whose early years were quite different than the life he built in Kansas City. The road to Kansas City, and eventually becoming a physician, was a long one. He was born in 1935 in Austria. As a very young child, he and his parents escaped to Switzerland, where they survived the war, but were interned. 

After the war, the Metzl family could not stay in Switzerland. Because so many of his family had perished in Austria, his parents didn’t want to go back there. So when they were offered a chance to go to the United States they took it, without knowing a soul. Once in New York HIAS put them on a train to Chicago, where Traveler’s Aid took charge of getting them on the train to Kansas City. They wore tags around their necks because they knew no English.  

“My mother panicked on the train to Kansas City,” Dr. Metzl said. “She had never seen so much empty space without humanity!”

When they arrived in Kansas City they were met by resettlement representatives from what is now Jewish Family Services, and placed in a home with three other refugee families.

“I still remember the woman who picked us up at the train station, Mrs. Yudelovitz,” he said. “Her husband was the timpanist for the Kansas City Orchestra.”

Dr. Metzl remembers everyone who helped him and his family when they arrived in the USA.  

“We are a family that is involved with serving the community,” Dr. Metzl said. “I could have given back with anything. I served on the board of Jewish Family Services for a while. But as it turned out, I helped with being a physician in the community.”

The early years in Kansas City

Dr. Metzl was just a few months shy of 13 when he arrived in Kansas City. His Bar Mitzvah was held five months after he arrived. 

Because he spoke German, not English, he was put in fourth grade. He persevered and prospered and five years later he graduated high school. After attending Washington University on a full scholarship, he enrolled at the University of Kansas Medical School. Next it was on to New York for his residency at the New York Hospital, Cornell Medical Center.

Dr. Metzl says many people think he became a pediatrician because of his future partner Dr. Kantor, who was the first doctor to treat him when he came to Kansas City. But that was not actually the case. It was the doctor who took care of him in Switzerland, Dr. Frohlich, that left an important impression. He wanted to be like the Swiss doctor.

While Dr. Metzl was in New York he met his wife Marilyn. They got married while he was in his residency and then moved to Turkey for two years, where he served as a captain in the United States Air Force.

When he finished his military service, they needed to decide where to live.

“For Marilyn, New York was her first choice,” he said. “And we looked at Denver, because we liked to ski.”

But in the end, they came to Kansas City.

“I moved back because of my parents,” he said. “I was the only child. And they had been through a lot.”

His parents owned a kosher butcher shop on Troost.

“By the time I made the decision to move back, my parents were happy in their life. They missed their parents and their family. But no one talked about what happened for at least the first 20 to 30 years. We never talked about it. We talked about my grandparents, but not what happened.

“I wanted to be sure that my kids got to know their grandparents, because I grew up without remembering my grandparents,” Metzl added. “It was important for me that they had that. And we had lots of visits with Marilyn’s family.”

Dr. Metzl and his wife Marilyn have four sons: Jonathan, Jordan, Jamie and Joshua. Three of the four are doctors. They also have grandchildren who live in Denver.

‘A popular doctor’

Jo Statler, Dr. Metzl’s nurse for almost 30 years, said one of the pediatrician’s strengths was that he is a very good listener.

“He loved to help people solve family conflicts and he was good at it. It was all about fairness. He wanted everyone to be happy with the outcome,” Statler said.

But more important than his ability to listen, was his ability to know when a patient was truly sick.

“If he reacted, we knew the child was really sick,” Statler said. “He just had this way about him. We would be there to listen to the parents and make them not be afraid. But if he looked worried, we knew it was bad.”

“He is just rare,” said Sheri Bell, Cradles Thru College Care’s office manager. “I think one of the reasons he is such a popular doctor is his rare combination of empathy and good medicine. He seemed to know everything. He also knows when to tell parents to stop worrying. He was so good in helping them calm down.”

Sandy Suffian, a parent who took her two sons to Dr. Metzl reflects this feeling.

“We love Dr. Metzl,” she said. “He was the best. He genuinely cared about the total well-being of my sons: emotional, school, family and their physical health. Even today when my sons return home, at 21 and 23, they still request a well check with Dr. Metzl.”

Just as Dr. Metzl’s patients love and respect him, the pediatrician loves and respects his patients, and their families. He said he especially enjoyed the interaction with his patients. 

“It was really terrific,” he added. “I appreciated the fact that these people were bringing in their children and trusting me to take care of them. I now have fourth-generation children that I have taken care of. It is very hard to give it up.”

He never thought he would end up in Kansas City. But he has loved his life here.

“Going into practice with Dr. Kantor was really fun,” he said. But after 52 years, it was time to retire. Now I can go biking and skiing and visit my grandchildren.”

The family that he will now be able to spend more time with has also seen first-hand the impact he has had on the community. While campaigning in neighborhoods all around Kansas City during his 2014 Congressional run, son Jamie said he came across someone on nearly every block “who told me what a huge impact my father had on their children’s and/or grandchildren’s lives.”

“It made me really proud that my father has been able to help so many generations of Kansas Citians.”

Dr. Metzl is also proud of the work he’s done and knows he is blessed to have been able to do what he loves — be a physician who treats children — for more than 50 years.

“There are lots of people who are not so lucky. How lucky to be in an occupation that is so rewarding!”

Keep in touch

Dr. Metzl would love to hear from any of his former patients who would like to stay in contact with him. Email him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..