Dr. Ronald G. Michels, 47, eye surgeon

January 17, 1991|By Ernest F. Imhoff | Ernest F. Imhoff,Evening Sun Staff

Funeral services for Dr. Ronald G. Michels, co-director of the Retina Center at St. Joseph Hospital, are to be held tomorrow at 10 a.m. at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1400 Dulaney Valley Road, Towson.

Visitation was scheduled at the church today from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Dr. Michels, 47, of Ruxton, died of cardiac complications Tuesday at Johns Hopkins Hospital while awaiting a heart transplant.

One close friend, Dr. Bert M. Glaser, said Dr. Michels "saved thousands of people from around the world from blindness and changed their lives forever." He and another friend, Dr. Walter J. Stark, both remarked that many colleagues around the world called Michels the best and most influential vitreoretinal surgeon in the world.

Dr. Michels was a friend as well as renowned surgeon for thousands of everyday citizens and celebrities such as boxer Sugar Ray Leonard and foreign leaders. He published a 1,100-page book, "Retinal Detachment," judged "the best medical book and outstanding illustrated medical book" of the year by the Association of Medical Illustrators. He won the same award 10 years earlier for his book "Vitreous Surgery."

Dr. Michels' family yesterday announced the formation of the Ronald G. Michels Fellowship Foundation to assist people training in vitreoretinal surgery, a clinical fellowship.

The family requested that, in lieu of flowers, friends donate to the foundation in care of the Retina Center at St. Joseph Hospital, P.O. Box 9898, Baltimore 21284. One friend said Dr. Michels disliked the practice of sending flowers.

"Ronald Michels brought the world many gifts," said Dr. Glaser who worked with Dr. Michels since 1977. "He brought the gift of teaching and taught thousands of surgeons. . . . No single person has done more to teach vitreoretinal surgery. Ronald Michels brought the gift of clinical investigation. No one has done more to foster the development of new treatment modalities for retinal disorders. . . .

"Above all," Dr. Glaser said, "he brought the gift of healing. No physician has ever served his patients better than Ron Michels."

Dr. Stark was a Hopkins colleague since 1969 when they were ophthalmology residents together. Dr. Stark, director of corneal service at Johns Hopkins, said: "I cannot begin to express my sadness at the loss. . . . Dr. Michels became one of the finest physicians Hopkins ever produced and a giant in the field of vitreoretinal surgery. In fact, most ophthalmologists would agree that he was the pre-eminent vitreoretinal surgeon in the world today."

A native of Detroit and a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Dr. Michels traveled throughout the world to perform retina operations and to lecture at medical schools. His manner for patients was especially remarkable: understanding, honest and articulate in expressing in simple terms and reassuring warm tones the complexities of an operation.

Dr. Michels began his association with Johns Hopkins as an intern in 1968-69, after receiving his medical degree from the University of North Carolina School of Medicine in 1968. He joined Dr. Glaser at the St. Joseph center in October 1989.

Survivors include his wife, Alice Roberts Michels; a son, James Randolph Michels; and a daughter, Allison Jeanine Michels, all of Ruxton; his parents, Dr. and Mrs. Glenn E. Michels, of Henderson, N.C.; and two brothers, Dr. Dennis L. Michels of Kinston, N.C., and Dr. Gary E. Michels of Greenville, N.C.

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