Mildred Baer Gontrum, 100, public health nursing pioneer

April 04, 1994

Mildred Baer Gontrum, a long-time Ruxton resident and a pioneer in public health nursing in Maryland, died Saturday of pneumonia at the Edenwald retirement community in Towson. She was 100 years old.

Born in Baltimore, she graduated from Eastern High School in 1912 and worked for the Maryland Department of Health until 1917.

After her graduation in 1920 from the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing, Mrs. Gontrum became a staff nurse with the Baltimore Instructing Visiting Nursing Association.

In 1921, she was named director of public health nursing for the state Department of Health and was one of the first state-supported public health nurses sent into the counties to demonstrate the value of such nursing.

Her son, Peter Baer Gontrum of Eugene, Ore., said his mother often spoke of how she drove a Model T Ford throughout the Eastern Shore, visiting rural families to assess their health and stopping to change her own tires. She encountered many problems associated with poverty at the time, including tuberculosis and malnutrition, and often was greeted with suspicion by those she sought to help, he said.

In 1927, Mrs. Gontrum was appointed assistant to Dr. Bessie Moses, director of the Sanger Bureau of Contraceptive Advice. She held the post until 1931.

In 1975, the Planned Parenthood Association Board of Maryland presented her with a special award for her work and outstanding contributions to the founding of the bureau.

During World War II, Mrs. Gontrum performed volunteer work at Hopkins for the Red Cross and Hopkins' maternal health department.

Mrs. Gontrum was a member of the Johns Hopkins University Alumnae Association and a life member of the Johns Hopkins Hospital Alumnae Association and of the Baltimore Country Club.

She also was a charter member and first campaign chairwoman of the Towson Community Concert Association. For many years she was active with the Women's Club of Towson, the Women's Club of Roland Park and other civic and cultural organizations.

Mrs. Gontrum's husband of 62 years, Edwin K. Gontrum, died in 1987. She is survived by her son, three grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

No services are planned. The family suggests contributions to the Planned Parenthood Association of Maryland.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.