Dr. N. Louise Young, 90, physician was first black woman to practice in Md.

September 25, 1997|By Robert Hilson Jr. | Robert Hilson Jr.,SUN STAFF

Dr. N. Louise Young, a Baltimore native and the first African-American woman to practice medicine in Maryland, died Monday of Alzheimer's disease at Gilchrist Center for Hospice ,, Care in Towson.

Dr. Young, who was 90 and lived in Ashburton in West Baltimore, specialized in obstetrics and gynecology and served in numerous city and state medical capacities during her 52-year career.

She was a member of the executive committee and staff of the old Provident Hospital in the 1940s, and chief of the hospital's obstetrics department in the early 1950s. She was a visiting obstetrician at Union Memorial Hospital, a member of the obstetrics courtesy staff at the former South Baltimore General Hospital, and an associate member of gynecology, clinician and cancer detection staff at the old North Charles General Hospital.

For many years, Dr. Young operated a private medical practice, first on Druid Hill Avenue and later on Garrison Boulevard. At the same time, she was the women's physician at the former Morgan State College, girls' physician at Frederick Douglass High and staff physician at the Maryland Training School for Girls. She also operated a Planned Parenthood clinic.

"What I remember most was her compassion for her patients," said Dr. Claude Hill, a colleague and longtime friend. "Her concern went beyond health care. She was always very sincere."

Dr. Young broke the state's race and sex barriers when she opened her practice in 1932, seeing patients from offices above her father's drugstore -- Young's Pharmacy -- on Druid Hill Avenue at Hoffman Street.

Her father was also a first -- the state's first black pharmacist.

"The race thing wasn't as important to her as making sure people were healthy and properly treated," said Sheron White, a friend and former patient. "She just wanted to practice medicine for everybody."

However, Dr. Young was proud of being a physician and tried to help other women break into the field.

"She was an outspoken advocate for female physicians," said Dr. Emerson C. Walden, a longtime friend. "She wanted to see young people prepared for the field, not just in high school but at a younger age."

Friends said Dr. Young once said the "most wonderful thing in the world was to deliver a healthy baby, and to see the expression on the mother's face and the father's face."

She delivered thousands of babies before stopping in the early 1980s, deciding it was time to start sleeping through the night.

Dr. Young graduated from the old Colored High School (now Frederick Douglass High School) in 1924 and Howard University in 1927. She received her medical degree from the Howard University School of Medicine in 1930.

When she finished medical school, Dr. Young hoped to return to Baltimore for her internship. However, no hospital would accept her.

"At Provident, they said there was no place for a woman to sleep," she said during an interview with The Sun in 1982. "And no place else in Baltimore was accepting blacks."

She was an intern at Freedman's Hospital, a Howard University affiliate, and returned to Baltimore to open a practice in 1932. She was awarded residency at Provident Hospital in 1940.

Once, early in her practice, a male physician told her that it was a waste for a woman to get a medical education because she would eventually get married, have children and quit the profession.

She countered that she planned to practice for at least half a century.

She retired in 1984, after 52 years of practicing medicine.

Dr. Young married William E. Spencer in the mid-1970s. She had been married twice previously.

She was a lifetime member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

She was a longtime member of the St. James Episcopal Church, 1020 W. Lafayette Ave. in West Baltimore, where services are scheduled for 10: 30 a.m. tomorrow.

In addition to her husband, she is survived by four cousins, Mathilda Pair of Baltimore, Rae Porter Scott of Baltimore, James Pair of Jamaica and Hugh Young of Phoenix.

More obituaries on next page.

Pub Date: 9/25/97

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