Dr. Martin W. Donner, retired chief of radiology, expert...


April 15, 1992

Dr. Martin W. Donner, retired chief of radiology, expert on 0) swallowing, dies

Services for Dr. Martin W. Donner, retired head of radiology at the Johns Hopkins medical school and hospital and a world expert on swallowing, will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday at Zion Lutheran Church near Baltimore's City Hall.

Dr. Donner, who lived on South Wind Road in Ruxton, died Monday at Hopkins Hospital of complications after an apparently successful heart transplant March 6. He was 71.

He became director of the Department of Radiology in the medical school and chief of radiology in the hospital in 1972. He started the country's first swallowing center at the hospital in 1981.

In 1987, he retired from the radiology posts to devote full time to the center and edit a new professional journal, Dysphagia. He retired as director of the center in 1990.

The university named him a distinguished service professor and last year the first endowed professorship in radiology was named for him.

Dr. William R. Brody, current director of the department, said yesterday, "Martin became head of the department when radiology was undergoing a major technological revolution." He steered it through the introduction of new equipment and new training for students.

Dr. Michael E. Johns, dean of the medical school, described Dr. Donner as "one of the finest human beings I have known."

Dr. Richard S. Ross, who was dean while Dr. Donner headed radiology, described him as a "classic success story," who always thought of the department and of other people.

The new technology included ultra sound, computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging and spectroscopy.

In 1986 Dr. Donner opened one of the nation's largest self-contained magnetic resonance imaging centers, which showed soft tissue, the spinal cord and the bloodstream. Born in Leipzig, Germany, Dr. Donner completed his medical studies at the University of Leipzig and served internships and residencies in internal medicine and radiology in Germany before moving to the United States in 1954. He served residencies at Mound Park Hospital in St. Petersburg, Fla., before coming to the Hopkins in 1958 as an assistant resident and fellow in radiology.

He had headed the Department of Radiology at Good Samaritan Hospital as well at Hopkins, and was professor of radiological science in the Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health.

He was a consultant to the Rosewood Center and National Institutes of Health. Forty-five times, he was a visiting professor at schools in this country and abroad. He was the author of nearly 160 professional papers.

A member of 18 professional and honor societies, he had been chairman of the scientific advisory board of the Institute for Diagnostic Research of the Free University of Berlin, a fellow of the American College of Radiology, vice president of the Johns Hopkins Medical and Surgical Association and president of the Society of Gastrointestinal Radiologists, which awarded him its Cannon Medal.

He is survived by his wife of 41 years, the former Adelheid Wimmer; two daughters, Cornelia Donner of Baltimore and Stephanie Donner of Cockeysville; a son, Dr. Thomas Donner of the Twin Ridge area; a brother, Arndt Donner of Hamburg, Germany; and a grandson.

The family suggested memorial contributions to the Cardiac Surgery Transplant Fund of the Hopkins Division of Cardiac Surgery or the Johns Hopkins Swallowing Center.

A Mass of Christian burial for Mary Louise Benner, a former teacher and a 30-year resident of Towson, will be offered at 10 a.m. today at Immaculate Conception Roman Catholic Church, Baltimore and Ware avenues in Towson.

Mrs. Benner, 73, had lived on Seth Court. She died Monday of cancer at Keswick.

The former Mary Louise Monroe was born in Portsmouth, Va., and was a graduate of Mary Washington College where she majored in music and English.

She taught English and French at schools in Kempsville and Hot Springs, Va., before her marriage in 1943 to John A. Benner. They settled in Towson in 1962 after his retirement as a lieutenant colonel in the Army. They had moved nearly 20 times during his career. One move was to Taiwan, with six young


An accomplished pianist, Mrs. Benner enjoyed raising African violets, reading mystery novels and collecting figurines of turtles.

She was a volunteer at the Stella Maris Hospice. She was a member of the Leisure Club at Immaculate Conception Church, the Daughters of the American Revolution and the Jamestown Society.

In addition to her husband, her survivors include seven daughters, Sister Mary Benner R.S.M. and Margaret Benner, both of Baltimore, and Carol Benner Doelp of Linthicum, Patricia Young of Tehachapi, Calif., Michele Benner of Fargo, N.D., Roberta Beaty of Williamstown, N.J., and Susan Benner of Lancaster, Calif.; a son, John Benner Jr. of Carney; a sister, Dorothy Fleet Hill of Portsmouth, Va.; and five grandchildren.

The family suggested memorial contributions to the American Cancer Society.

Donald A. Quarles

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