Dr. W. Grafton Hersperger, 90, internist, lacrosse player

November 04, 1998|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

Dr. W. Grafton Hersperger, a retired internist and member of the famed 1928 U.S. Olympic lacrosse team, died Saturday of heart failure at Sinai Hospital. He was 90 and had been a resident of Keswick Multi-Care Center since 1991.

Dr. Hersperger, a former longtime Guilford resident, practiced medicine from the same office in the Medical Arts Building on Cathedral Street for 48 years, until retiring in 1985.

In addition to his private practice, he served as a physician at Keswick for 30 years and was medical director of the retirement community for 10 years.

He also had been an instructor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and University of Maryland School of Medicine.

A tall, soft-spoken man, Dr. Hersperger developed a reputation among his patients as being a physician who attentively listened to them before arriving at a diagnosis and a course of treatment.

"He was extremely thorough and had a unique way of being able to draw out patients who had gone from doctor to doctor seeking help. He put people at ease and would let them just talk," said Ilse M. Harrop of Parkville, a former secretary.

"He used to say that it wasn't only the physical but the social that influences a person's health. His mind was always working on behalf of his patients, and I think they really appreciated the fact that they were treated as individuals," she said.

"He meant a lot to a lot of people," she added.

June Carroll Archibald, another former secretary, who worked with Dr. Hersperger from 1963 until his retirement, described him as a "good old-fashioned doctor."

Mrs. Archibald, a Manchester resident, said, "Until he retired, he continued making house calls. It made no difference what hour a patient called, he'd come. He was a breed of physician that is vanishing very quickly."

Born in Frederick, he moved to Baltimore as a youth. He graduated from City College in 1924 and earned his bachelor's degree from Johns Hopkins University in 1929.

While at Hopkins, he was an attackman on the college lacrosse team that traveled to Amsterdam and represented the United States at the 1928 Olympic Games. The team, which traveled with other American athletes aboard the liner S.S. President Roosevelt, was under the direction of then-Major Gen. Douglas MacArthur, who was commander of the 3rd Corps Area in Baltimore.

Dr. Hersperger earned his medical degree from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in 1933 and completed his residency at the Rhode Island Hospital in Providence and also trained at Children's Hospital in Baltimore.

He was certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine in 1949 and became a member of the American College of Physicians in 1950. He also was a member of the Baltimore City Medical Society, the Medical and Chirurgical Faculty of Maryland and the Maryland Board of Physical Therapy.

He was married in 1939 to the former Virginia Rodgers Fry, who died in 1995.

Dr. Hersperger maintained a lifelong interest in lacrosse, often // attending reunions with his 1928 teammates.

He was a member of Grace United Methodist Church in the Homeland section of Baltimore.

Services were held yesterday at Grace United Methodist Church.

He is survived by a son, Grafton R. Hersperger of Roland Park.

Pub Date: 11/04/98

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