Hurwitz, Lewis (Louis) John (1926–71), neurologist, was born 9 February 1926, the youngest of the four sons and two daughters of Barnet Harris (‘Barney’) Hurwitz, linen merchant and president of the Belfast Jewish community, and Cana Hurwitz (née Clein), of Cork. Barney received an OBE for his charity work for the Belfast Abbeyfield Society, a charity which provided homes and care for old people of all denominations. The Hurwitz family is said to have left Russia, fleeing the anti-Jewish pogroms at the end of the nineteenth century. Having taken a ship to the USA, Lewis's grandparents, linen merchant Joseph Hurwitz and his wife, Molly, disembarked at Cork for the birth of one of their children, and eventually settled in Belfast. They were naturalised as Irish citizens in 1904.
Educated at the Belfast Royal Academy, Hurwitz was an athletic schoolboy, winning medals for hurdling and sprinting. He won the Girdwood cup for best all-round track events on two occasions, and continued long-distance running as a hobby throughout his life. In 1949 he graduated MB, B.Ch., BAO from QUB, and in 1952 he received a B.Sc. in pathology; the following year he obtained his MD. Working initially as a house officer, then registrar, in the neurological department of the Royal Victoria Hospital, he impressed his seniors not only with his genuine compassion for the sick and his patience and care, but also with his academic brilliance and talent for original thought.
He moved to London in 1955, when he was awarded a residency at the National Hospital, Queen Square (now the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery), and remained there for three years. After becoming senior resident medical officer and lecturer in developmental neurology at the Institute of Neurology, Hurwitz was awarded a scholarship that enabled him to spend a year at the Bellevue Hospital, Cornell, New York, where he took a major part in a survey of cerebral vascular disease (1958–9). He enjoyed his time in New York and made many lasting friends. He then returned to his job at the National Hospital, which had been kept open for him. In 1960 he obtained a travelling fellowship that allowed him to study for a short period at the Hôpital de la Salpêtrière in Paris. While there he wrote a scientific paper with French colleagues which appeared in Revue Neurologique (1961). Deeply impressed by French neurology, Hurwitz later published a history of the Salpêtrière in the Ulster Medical Journal. On his return to London he was appointed lecturer at the Institute of Neurology, though he moved back to Belfast in May 1962, when he was appointed consultant neurologist to the Royal Victoria, Claremont Street, and Belfast City hospitals (1962–71).
Hurwitz was a fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine of London (he served on the council of the neurology section) and a member of the Association of British Neurologists, the Irish Neurological Association, RAMI, the Belfast Shakespeare Reading Society, and the cross-border group of Ivo Drury (qv), the Corrigan Club. He was also secretary to the Ulster Neuropsychiatric Society and was elected a fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh (1963). His colleagues lamented when his untimely death put an end to an extremely promising career. By this time, his reputation as an inspiring teacher was well established. Sir Derrick Dunlop, professor of therapeutics and clinical medicine at Edinburgh University, referred to him (1969) as the finest clinical teacher in the UK (Natalie Hurwitz, pers. com.). He was an engaging public speaker, and his appearance on a conference programme was sure to attract a large audience. He had two minor coronaries in 1967, and though he modified his life style to improve his health it did not deter him from his participation at meetings, where he often brought tape recordings of his presentations in case he was unable to speak. Hurwitz wrote many papers and contributed to several international journals on a regular basis. His best-known work was on subacute sclerosing encephalitis, Parkinson's disease, and muscle disease in relation to metabolic disorder. A selection of his publications, entitled Selected papers of Lewis J. Hurwitz, was edited by Michael Swallow (1975).
Known to his friends as Louis, Hurwitz was personally well liked and respected by his colleagues for his erudition, his personal modesty and his sense of humour. He was in great demand as an after-dinner speaker. He met his future wife, Natalie Antoinette Sender, in January 1961, when she was working as a registrar in neurosurgery at Maida Vale Hospital, London, and he was senior registrar in neurology at the National. They married 13 June 1961 in Leeds, and both continued to live and work in London until he was appointed consultant neurologist to the Belfast hospitals. Living at 17 Newforge Lane, Belfast, they had three children – one daughter and two sons. Hurwitz's family was very important to him and his home life was a source of great personal happiness. He died suddenly of a heart attack 19 October 1971, aged only forty-five. After his death his family endowed an annual lecture at QUB in his memory. Natalie moved to Leeds, where she practised medicine and brought up their three children.