R Adams Cowley is remembered

November 04, 1991|By Larry Carson | Larry Carson,Evening Sun Staff

The late Dr. R Adams Cowley, founder of the Maryland Shock-Trauma Center in Baltimore, was "arrogant, determined, stubborn and difficult to get along with."

So did former Governor Marvin Mandel describe the late Dr. Cowley today at a memorial service at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Lutherville.

If some of the traits Mandel described seemed somewhat harsh for a eulogy, the former governor explained that Cowley needed and used each one because "the man was so determined to make [the Shock-Trauma Center] work -- for other people, not for himself."

Mandel, along with Gov. William Donald Schaefer; Rep. Helen D. Bentley, R-2nd; and former associates and friends of Dr. Cowley's; used those and many other descriptions to praise the doctor who founded Maryland's internationally known trauma center.

"The odds he was fighting," Mandel said in describing the physician's struggle to get backing for his dream, "were so huge, they seemed impossible."

Bentley called Cowley "one of the greatest figures in modern medicine . . . around the world" and also credited his "sheer force of will, character and persuasion," for creating the emergency medical system that has now been copied nationally.

Cowley died Oct. 27 at home, of heart failure. He was 74. After the service, a funeral procession adorned with fire and emergency medical trucks and equipment traveled to Arlington National Cemetery for a burial with full military honors.

Cowley was a former U.S. Army surgeon who learned how to do more effective healing of sudden injuries while working in Europe after World War II.

He opened a two-bed research unit in 1961 at the University of Maryland hospital in Baltimore, which was eventually expanded. In 1989, a new eight-story building was unveiled at the complex that bore his name.

Schaefer said Cowley "put Maryland on the medical map." The system Dr. Cowley created has given Maryland a 2 1/2 times better accident survival rate than most states, he said.

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