Car crash kills UM physician

April 24, 1995|By Ellen Gamerman | Ellen Gamerman,Sun Staff Writer

Dr. Marion Carlyle Crenshaw Jr., chairman of the University of Maryland School of Medicine's Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology since 1980, was killed in a weekend traffic accident when he swerved to avoid a dog.

Dr. Crenshaw, 64, who lived in Baltimore's Guilford section, was driving to his country home in Easton in a minivan after dropping off his wife at Baltimore-Washington International Airport when the accident occurred about 5 p.m. Saturday on U.S. 50 near Skipton Creek in Talbot County.

State police said Dr. Crenshaw tried to avoid hitting the dog in the fast lane, and his 1992 Dodge Caravan ran off the road and into the median strip, where it struck a guardrail, flew into the air and landed in the opposing traffic lanes, police said.

A specialist in high-risk maternity care, Dr. Crenshaw delivered more than 5,000 babies in his 39-year career. He often could be found by a patient's bedside, teaching young residents the art of doctoring, and was known for racing to the hospital for middle-of-the-night births.

"He was like a father," said Dr. David A. Nagey, director of maternal-fetal medicine at the hospital. Dr. Nagey came to Baltimore 15 years ago to study under Dr. Crenshaw. "He taught me at every turn."

Dr. Crenshaw was remembered yesterday as a genteel Southerner with a natural empathy for his patients, and an aggressive researcher who helped bring the medical school into national prominence.

Dr. Crenshaw, a native of Lancaster, S.C., was a 1956 graduate of the Duke University School of Medicine in Durham, N.C. He spent two years in the military at Carswell Air Force Base, Texas, and two more years as a fellow in reproductive physiology at Yale University.

He returned to Duke to begin his teaching career at the university's medical center, where he eventually became an associate professor in the Department of Pediatrics.

When Dr. Crenshaw arrived at the University of Maryland in 1980, he hoped to create his own legacy of young talent. He hired 20 physicians fresh out of medical school, many of them his students at Duke, and set about building a high-profile research department.

As a researcher, Dr. Crenshaw developed expertise in the management of diabetes in pregnant women, the delivery of very premature infants and the treatment of maternal bleeding disorders.

But it was at a patient's bedside, talking easily in his South Carolina singsong while passing on his knowledge of mothers and babies, where colleagues said he seemed happiest in his professional life.

"So many of us feel we really owe him something for all those years of mentoring," said Dr. Eli A--i, a fellow professor of obstetrics and gynecology who was a member of Dr. Crenshaw's core group of physicians. "We feel we need to give something more because of him."

Acquaintances said Dr. Crenshaw never seemed clinical or remote like the science he taught. His friends recall him hiding in reeds and rushes on the Eastern Shore on duck hunting expeditions. "He was always on the mark," Dr. Nagey said.

As he grew older, he began to focus his energy outside the hospital and into the community, establishing an obstetrics care unit in Easton that specialized in treating low-income women with at-risk pregnancies. He or another member of his team spent one Friday a month at the clinic.

The love of medicine was one he shared with his wife, Dr. Lillian Blackmon, an associate professor of pediatrics at the University LTC of Maryland Hospital, who was flying to a medical conference in Chicago on Saturday.

The couple, married 16 years, sometimes treated the same high-risk babies -- Dr. Crenshaw in delivery, Dr. Blackmon in the hospital's critical-care nursery.

Dr. Crenshaw also is survived by three sons, Marion Carlyle Crenshaw III of Baltimore, William Frank Crenshaw of Lexington, Va., and Hugh Charles Crenshaw of Durham; a daughter, Faith Millspaugh of Baltimore; his father, Marion Crenshaw of Columbia, S.C.; and eight grandchildren.

A memorial service was planned for 2 p.m. tomorrow at the Church of Redeemer, 5603 N. Charles St.

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