Dr. Lloyd E. Rozeboom, 91, world expert on mosquitoes

November 06, 1999|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

Dr. Lloyd E. Rozeboom, an internationally known authority on the transmission of mosquito-borne diseases who also identified many species of the insect, died Sunday from complications of Parkinson's disease at Vantage House in Columbia. He was 91.

Dr. Rozeboom formerly lived in Lochearn and Hampstead, Carroll County, before moving to Vantage House in 1992.

For more than 40 years, he taught medical entomology at the Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health and studied insects that transmit diseases to humans. He retired in 1977.

His career in pursuing the carriers of often fatal diseases such as malaria, took him to Panama, the Philippines, India and other tropical areas.

During the presentation of the prestigious Bailey F. Ashford Award in Tropical Medicine in 1941, it was said that Dr. Rozeboom's work was comparable to that of Walter Reed, who proved that yellow fever was transmitted by mosquitoes.

"Dr. Rozeboom made many important discoveries concerning the transmission of diseases by insects, their transmission cycle and what they feed on," said Dr. Diane E. Griffin, chairwoman of the Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology at Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health.

In the field and in his East Baltimore laboratory, Dr. Rozeboom identified and described numerous species of mosquitoes, many which he named for mentors at the School of Public Health.

"He remains an important figure in the field and did a great deal of defining work," said Dr. Griffin.

"He was a giant in his field. It is the passing of an era," said Dr. Duane J. Gubler, a former student who heads the Division of Vector-Borne Infectious Diseases at the Center for Disease Control in Fort Collins, Colo.

Dr. Gubler said that, as a teacher, Dr. Rozeboom was a "great believer in self-starters" and that "he left you alone to do your work. He'd say, `Here is the laboratory and facilities. Go do your thing,' "

Born in Orange City, Iowa, he was the last of 10 children of Dutch immigrants. As a child, he began collecting insects from the family garden, keeping them in small screen-mesh cages. He also copied every insect-related article he found in encyclopedias.

After graduating from high school, he enrolled at Morningside College in 1926. While doing roadwork in the summer, he discovered a county agricultural extension agent's office near where he was working.

"It was the first time that he learned from the agent that he could make a career out of studying insects," said his daughter, Carol Wike of Boise, Idaho.

He transferred to Iowa State University at Ames, earning his bachelor's degree in zoology-entomology in 1931.

He came to Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health in 1931, when he was offered a student assistantship in the Department of Medical Zoology. Specializing in the study of mosquitoes led to a doctorate in medical entomology in 1934.

Dr. John Murray, his roommate at Hopkins, recalled a hiking trip through the Adirondacks when they were bothered by mosquitoes, punkies and black flies.

"That didn't bother Lloyd," wrote Dr. Murray. "He was a medical entomologist, and whereas an ordinary human being would swat [the bugs], he produced a small bottle with a lethal agent and collected the critters."

From 1934 to 1937, Dr. Rozeboom was medical entomologist at the Gorgas Memorial Laboratory in Panama, and then taught for two years at Oklahoma A&M College before returning to Hopkins in 1939.

He was married in 1939 to Mae Thompson, who died this year.

During World War II, he was sent by the Army to Trinidad to determine which insect species near air bases being constructed were carriers of disease. Commissioned a lieutenant in the Navy, he served in the Pacific, where he clarified the taxonomix status of many mosquitoes there. He remained in the Naval Reserve, and was discharged with the rank of captain in 1968.

After retiring, he was asked by Hopkins to return and establish a tropical medical center at the School of Public Health. He retired a second time in 1977.

Dr. Rozeboom, who wrote widely about insect-borne diseases, received numerous awards for his work.

"He was deeply religious and considered his family the most important thing in his life -- not always the priorities for a scientist," said his daughter.

He was a member for more than 50 years of Brown Memorial Presbyterian Church, and maintained many interests, including gardening, music, traveling and golfing.

A memorial service will be held at 1: 30 p.m. Nov. 13 at Vantage House, 5400 Vantage Point Road, Columbia.

In addition to his daughter, he is survived by a son, Kenneth Rozeboom of Crockett, Calif.; four granddaughters; and a great-granddaughter.

Memorial donations may be made to Brown Memorial Presbyterian Church, 1316 Park Ave., Baltimore 21217; or the Dr. Lloyd and Mae Rozeboom Scholarship Fund, the Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health, 615 N. Wolfe St., Baltimore 21287.

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