Huntington Williams, was health commissioner

May 05, 1992

Dr. Huntington Williams, who as Baltimore's health commissioner for three decades led the campaigns to restrict use of lead paint, fluoridate the water supply and establish a school dental program, died yesterday in his sleep at his home on West University Parkway.

He was 99.

Services for Dr. Williams, who retired in 1962, will be held at 10:30 a.m. tomorrow at the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer, Charles Street and Melrose Avenue.

He suffered what was characterized as a mild stroke two weeks ago.

Born in Baltimore, he was educated at the Calvert School, the Gilman School, and St. George's School in Newport, R.I., before attending Harvard College, where he graduated in 1915.

The typhoid fever that in 1894 caused the death of his father, George Huntington Williams, the first professor of geology at Johns Hopkins University, led to an early interest in public health, and while still a medical student at Johns Hopkins in 1918, Dr. Williams entered the new Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health. He received his medical degree in 1919 and a doctorate in public health in 1921.

He interned in Montreal at the Royal Victoria Hospital.

In 1922, Dr. Williams became a district state health officer in Albany, N.Y., and started a series of five-minute radio talks on health.

He moved to Baltimore's Health Department in 1931 as director and assistant commissioner. He was named acting commissioner and then commissioner in 1933.

In 1941, Dr. Williams worked for the passage of Baltimore's Hygiene in Housing ordinance.

He continued his radio broadcasts after he returned to Baltimore, featuring slogans such as one about the danger of spoiled food, "When in Doubt, Throw it Out." In 1948, he started a television program, "Your Family Doctor."

He opened district health offices and the first of them, near the Hopkins medical institutions, was renamed in his honor in 1978.

From 1931 to 1961, the year before his retirement, the infant mortality rate in Baltimore dropped from 74.5 per 1,000 births to 32; annual deaths from tuberculosis dropped from 789 to 148; cases of typhoid fever dropped from 107 to two annually; and diphtheria cases dropped from 416 to none.

During World War II, Dr. Williams was a consultant to the U.S. Office of Civil Defense and was a member of a group that went to London in 1941 to study the effects of the bombing. After the war, he was an adviser to the West German government.

He was on a panel that advised the World Health Organization. He was professor of hygiene and public health at the University of Maryland Medical School and a lecturer and

adjunct professor at the Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health.

A fellow and former vice president of the American Public Health Association and an honorary member of the Society of Medical Officers of Health of Great Britain, he was a founder and the first president of the U.S. Conference of City Health Officers.

Dr. Williams was energetic in his pursuit of other interests as well. He was former president of the Baltimore Bibliophiles and ,, he headed the Library Committee of the Maryland Historical Society. He had been senior warden of the Church of the Redeemer and was a member of the Elkridge Club and the Society of Colonial Wars in the State of Maryland.

L His first wife, the former Mary Camilla McKim, died in 1960.

He is survived by his wife, the former Isabella van Wessem; two daughters, Mary Camilla Wallis of Newport Beach, Calif., and Cynthia Ballard of Sparks; two sons, the Rt. Rev. Huntington Williams Jr. of Raleigh, suffragan bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina, and Dr. McKim Williams of Newport News, Va.; a stepson, Jules Kreykamp of Roudonck, Netherlands; 15 grandchildren; and 11 great-grandchildren.

The family suggested memorial contributions to the Church of the Redeemer or the Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health.

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