When Seth Hewitt was a boy, he often accompanied his father, Dr. George Hewitt, on house calls.
“He was one of those old-school doctors, for sure,’’ Seth said, “and I just wanted to spend time with him.’’
That was in the late 1960s, and Dr. Hewitt’s former assistant, Betty Reilly, said he was still making house calls when she worked in his Lexington practice in the 1990s.
“It was something he believed in,’’ she said. “He was an all-around physician, and a wonderful, caring man.’’
Dr. Hewitt died in his Nelson, N.H., home Feb. 24 of esophageal cancer. He was 83.
His wife, Elizabeth, said the couple often stayed home on weekends just in case a patient needed him. “We didn’t have cellphones back then, so there was no other way,’’ she said.
His patients, she added, appreciated his dedication and showed their gratitude with gifts for the family each Christmas.
“There was one family who gave the children mittens every single year,’’ she said.
Although Dr. Hewitt was a cardiologist with specialties in internal medicine and hematology, “he would treat everybody, for anything,’’ his son said.
“He worked very, very hard,’’ said Seth, who lives in Portland, Maine. “He was just 100 percent dedicated to his patients.’’
George Carter Hewitt was born in Minneapolis in 1928 and grew up on Christmas Lake in Excelsior, Minn.
He attended the Blake School in Minnesota and Harvard College, from which he graduated in 1951 with a degree in English.
He married Elizabeth Lincoln Chapman in 1955.
That same year, he graduated from the Boston University School of Medicine and worked first as an intern and then as a fellow in hematology in Albany, N.Y.
Following that, he served in the Army for two years as head of a blood bank at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio.
After the service, Dr. Hewitt worked at hospitals in Hartford and Buffalo before returning to Boston to join the Massachusetts Memorial Hospital staff.
Later, he had a private practice in Arlington and Lexington, and was on the staff of Symmes Hospital in Arlington and Mount Auburn Hospital in Cambridge.
While at Harvard, Dr. Hewitt rowed on the crew team. He took a hiatus when his children were young, and returned to the sport in his 40s, joining the Cambridge Boat Club in 1968. Rowing became a passion he pursued until soon before he died.
When Dr. Hewitt and his wife moved to New Hampshire in 2003 after he retired, he joined a rowing club in Putney, Vt., and rowed on the Connecticut River, while maintaining his membership in the Cambridge Boat Club.
“He was an avid and competitive rower who hated, even in his 70s, to be passed by another shell,’’ his wife said.
Though he usually rowed in a single, Dr. Hewitt sometimes shared a double. He took part in the Head of the Charles Regatta for many years.
Renowned boatmaker Graeme King, owner of King Boatworks in Putney, once built a single for Dr. Hewitt, and the two became friends.
Dr. Hewitt, King said, often stopped by the shop to chat.
“He loved the boats, he loved the water, and he liked to stay fit by rowing every day if possible,’’ King said.
Jerome Murphy, treasurer of M. Steinert & Sons in Boston, knew Dr. Hewitt through the Cambridge Boat Club.
“He was a very good rower, and an inspiration to many people at the CBC,’’ he said. “He was also a terrific physician, and had many of the same patients for a lifetime.’’
Dr. Hewitt returned to rowing, Murphy said, because other physicians suggested it would be a good way to keep in shape.
“His philosophy was to stay in good condition, stay alert, and stay healthy,’’ he said. “He wanted to enjoy his life and his family as long as possible, and he did.’’
Dr. Robert Ackerman, a neurologist at Massachusetts General and a Cambridge Boat Club member, said Dr. Hewitt was “a very fine person, and it was a privilege for us all to know him.’’
“He was very knowledgeable but also modest,’’ Ackerman said. “He didn’t make statements unless he really knew what he was talking about. But when he did, it was always a real gem, either about medicine or about rowing.’’
In addition to his wife and his son, Dr. Hewitt leaves a daughter, Eliza of Pleasantville, N.Y.; two other sons, Nathaniel of Nelson, N.H., and Cushing Island, Maine, and Peter of Acton; a sister, Helen Marsh of Damariscotta, Maine; two foster sons, Trent Ma of Boston and Ming Na of Newton; and seven grandchildren.
At Dr. Hewitt’s request, there will be no service.
Dr. James Beck, a psychiatrist who teaches at Harvard Medical School, said he and Dr. Hewitt often ran into each other at the Cambridge Boat Club.
“He was consistently cheerful and friendly,’’ he said. “He was the kind of person you really looked forward to seeing and hoped you would run into in the locker room. And he cared terribly about rowing.’’
Will Reimann, a sculptor, also became friendly with Dr. Hewitt at the club.
“I considered him one of the great gentlemen,’’ he said. “A patient’s doctor, that’s what I would call him. He was a splendid man who was not afraid to tell you what he thought, but always did it in a very gentle way.’’