Dr. George U. Balis, 68, professor of psychiatry

December 31, 1997|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,SUN STAFF

Dr. George Ulysses Balis, 68, who directed the psychiatric education of University of Maryland's medical students for many years, died of cancer Monday at that institution's hospital.

The Greek-born physician, who began his teaching career at the medical school in 1966, was the author or editor of 11 books and numerous scholarly articles. Though he was a specialist in the field of eating disorders and depression, he was best known as an esteemed teacher.

"He had a strong speaking voice and was a passionate person. He was very popular with students," said Dr. Daniel Weintraub, a University of Maryland colleague who trained under him.

"One of Dr. Balis's many abilities was to convey the strength of science in both the biological and psychological aspects of psychiatry," said Dr. William Carpenter, a University of Maryland professor.

"He had an incredible commitment to the school. He was always constructive. He was as straightforward as anyone you would ever encounter," Dr. Carpenter said.

Several times a year, Dr. Balis opened his Towson-area home to his students, brought in a guest speaker and served a Greek feast that included homemade dishes and wine.

"His students called him Papa Bear. He treated them like a father. He would yell at them and love them at the same time," said his wife, the former Sophia Arabatzis.

Born in Calamata, Greece, Dr. Balis received his medical degree at the National University School of Medicine in Athens. He came to the United States in 1958 and trained at St. Francis Hospital in Pittsburgh, the University of Pittsburgh, the University of Maryland and Mount Sinai and St. Michael's hospitals in Toronto.

He joined the University of Maryland's School of Medicine in 1966 as an assistant professor. At the time of his death, he was professor of psychiatry and director of education and training. He also was a consultant to St. Joseph Medical Center's eating disorder program.

Dr. Balis was named teacher of the year by the University of Maryland Psychiatric Residents' Association in 1987.

He had been an examiner for the American Boards of Psychiatry and Neurology and at the time of his death was fellowship chair of the Maryland Psychiatric Society.

He was a founder of the Association of Directors of Medical Education in Psychiatry and served as that group's president from 1983 to 1985.

A funeral will be held at 10: 30 a.m. Saturday at St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church, 2504 Cub Hill Road.

Other survivors include two daughters, Dr. Theodora Balis of Baltimore and Chrysanthy Balis of Los Angeles.

Memorial donations may be made to the George Balis Library Fund, in care of the University of Maryland Foundation, 701 W. Pratt St., Suite 388, Baltimore 21201.

Pub Date: 12/31/97

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