Dr. Gerard-Marie McGuffie Woel, 66, general surgeon, French food aficionado

January 10, 1999|By Joe Mathews | Joe Mathews,SUN STAFF

Dr. Gerard-Marie McGuffie Woel, a bow-tied surgeon who left his native Haiti for Baltimore and fathered a family full of doctors, died Thursday at Sinai Hospital after a short battle with cancer. He was 66.

From 1960 to 1966, Dr. Woel worked at Sinai, where he was chief resident in the emergency room, before entering private practice in Northwest Baltimore. He worked from his Rogers Avenue office for 31 years, until his retirement in February 1997.

A general surgeon, Dr. Woel specialized in biliary tract and pancreatic operations, but he was best-known for cheering patients with his bow ties and flowers from his wife's garden.

Co-workers remarked on his old-fashioned humility, his talent for remembering names and faces, and his extraordinarily good manners -- the product perhaps of his aristocratic roots in Haiti, where his grandfather served as the American consul.

At home, Dr. Woel's French-style cooking fed a growing medical dynasty. His wife, Dr. Cecile Andree Th. Woel, is a psychiatrist, two of his daughters are doctors, and two more children are studying for their medical degrees. All eight of their children earned college degrees, his family said.

"We all look a lot like him," said Dr. Sybille B. Woel, a radiologist in Durham, N.C. "When I was an intern at the University of Maryland, people would ask me, `Are you Dr. Woel's daughter?' Everyone knew him."

Born in Gonaives, Haiti, Dr. Woel excelled in academics, graduating at the top of his college and medical school classes.

He was an intern at a Paris hospital. He met his future wife in college in Haiti. They married in 1959.

In Baltimore, the family settled near Mount Washington. At home, Dr. Woel read heavily, favoring thick history and philosophy texts. He made himself something of an expert in wine and food.

"He was very good with game," said Sybille Woel. "He could cook fowl, venison, duck, goose "

In addition to his wife and daughter, Dr. Woel is survived by a son, Gerard Woel II of Sarasota, Fla., and six other daughters, Cassandre Woel Martins of San Jose, Calif., Alissa Erica and Dr. Valerie Tessa Woel-Nogueira, both of Baltimore, Arabella Woel-Popovitch of Annapolis, Rosemond "Zoe" Woel of Richmond, Va., and Roxanne Thais Woel of Durham, N.C.; and three sisters, Catherine Bourand of Morocco, Vivianne Mathelier of Chicago and Chantal Woel of Largo, Fla.

A Mass of Christian burial will be offered at the family's church, the Roman Catholic Shrine of the Sacred Heart, 5800 Smith Ave. in Mount Washington, at noon tomorrow.

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