Dr. Eliot Johnson General practitioner

September 02, 1991

Services for Dr. Eliot Wesley Johnson, a general practitioner at St. Agnes Hospital for more than 50 years, will be at 11 a.m. tomorrow at the Loudon Park Cemetery in Southwest Baltimore.

Dr. Johnson, a longtime resident of Catonsville, died Friday at St. Agnes after a heart attack. He was 90.

He retired in 1979, after a career that included general medicine and obstetric practices in Irvington and Catonsville, and staff service at Bon Secours Hospital.

His most celebrated patient was a child who recovered from leukemia in 1952, in a cure attributed by the Roman Catholic Church to the intercession of Mother Elizabeth Ann Seton, who achieved sainthood in the church because of that and two other miracles.

The 4-year-old girl, Anne O'Neill, was suffering from acute lymphatic leukemia and was not responding to treatment. Dr. Johnson sent her to a colleague at University Hospital for treatment with experimental drugs, but she did not respond.

She was eventually readmitted to St. Agnes, which is administered by the Daughters of Charity, an order of nuns founded by Mother Seton. A nun on the staff organized a novena -- nine consecutive days of prayer -- to Mother Seton. By the end of the novena, the girl was out of bed and walking, apparently cured. In 1961, the Catholic Church convened a tribunal in Baltimore to study the cure and declared it a miracle. Mother Seton was canonized in 1975 as the first American saint.

"It's no question in my mind, it was a miracle," Dr. Johnson told the Catholic Review in an interview four years ago. "At the time she was cured, I thanked God the child got well, and whoever deserves the credit can have it."

Born on a farm in Kipling, N.C., he attended public schools there and graduated in 1923 from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

After graduating from the Medical College of Virginia in 1927, he became the first medical resident at St. Agnes Hospital, which up to that time had offered only a surgical residency. A short time later, he also became a resident in obstetrics.

Dr. Johnson was a member of the Baltimore Medical Society and the Medical and Chirurgical Faculty of Maryland. He pursued his hobbies of golf and fishing as a one-time member of the Baltimore Country Club and as a member of the Annapolis Yacht Club and the Sherwood Forest Club.

He had been a vestryman at St. Timothy Episcopal Church in Catonsville and a member of St. Stephen's Episcopal Church in Crownsville.

He is survived by his wife of 60 years, the former Dorothy Chambers of Catonsville; two sons, David E. Johnson and Robert W. Johnson, both of Baltimore; a daughter, Rita J. Doub, also of Baltimore; a brother, Ralph Johnson of Kipling; a sister, Nell Lanier of Newport News, Va.; and three grandsons.

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