Dr. William M. Howdon, a retired professor of gynecology and obstetrics who invented a device that detects uterine cancer in its early stages, died Dec. 14 of pneumonia at the Keswick home where he had lived since 1988. The former Roland Park resident was 81.
He taught at the University of Miami Medical School and the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
His interest in photomicrographs of cells in the uterus led to the invention of the endometrial brush-aspirator that aided pathologists and cytotechnologists to microscopically detect uterine cancer in its early stages.
"He was interested in the cells of the uterus and really did some excellent work in noting changes in those cells which could indicate early malignancy," said Dr. J. Donald Woodruff, professor emeritus of gynecology and obstetrics at Johns Hopkins Hospital and a longtime friend and colleague.
Born and raised in Birmingham, Ala., Dr. Howdon entered the University of Alabama when he was 16 and earned his bachelor's degree in 1931. He received his medical degree in 1936 at Tulane University and did his residency at Charity Hospital in New Orleans and St. Louis University Hospital.
After he completed his residency, he moved to Miami, where he established a practice in gynecology and obstetrics. He also held a clinical and teaching professorship at the University of Miami Medical School until 1960, when he was appointed to the faculty of the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. He retired in 1978.
During World War II, he served in the Army Medical Corps and was discharged in 1945 as a first lieutenant.
Widely published, he was a life fellow of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology. From 1957 to 1958, he was president of the Miami Gynecologic and Obstetrics Society.
Memorial services were set for 2 p.m. today at the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer, 5603 N. Charles St. in Baltimore.
He is survived by his wife of 53 years, the former Arline F. Kaye of New York City, who retired in 1989 as education coordinator and manager of the cytopathology laboratory at Hopkins Hospital; a son, William M. Howdon Jr. of Denver; a daughter, A. Leslie Shay of Stamford, Conn.; and three grandchildren.
Memorial donations may be made to the Johns Hopkins Hospital Cytotechnology Scholarship Fund, 412 Pathology Building, Baltimore, Md. 21287.