Dr. George H. Friskey, 73, Baltimore anesthesiologist

April 01, 2000|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

Dr. George Hamilton Friskey, a Baltimore anesthesiologist who enlivened operating rooms and soothed patients with his lighthearted "Friskey-isms," died Tuesday at Union Memorial Hospital of a heart attack. He was 73 and lived in Ellicott City.

Dr. Friskey, who was on the staff of Good Samaritan Hospital from 1975 until he semiretired in 1998, loved his work.

"He completely devoted his whole life to medicine," said Raymond Vanderlinde, who was Dr. Friskey's biochemistry professor at the University of Maryland Medical School in the early 1950s. "He was simply imbued with medicine."

Dr. Friskey, who was 6 feet tall and wore black-framed glasses, preferred casual dress and enjoyed commuting to the Northwood hospital on his blue Harley-Davidson motorcycle. He was known as "Dr. Funny" by staff and patients.

"He'd tell people, `My name is Friskey like whiskey,' " said Sandra M. Houck of Anneslie, an operating room nurse who worked with him for more than 20 years.

Ms. Houck described Dr. Friskey as a man of good will and charm who knew the recuperative powers of humor. She said he often made up "Friskey-isms" on the spot.

"He'd say, `Where there's a Will, there's probably a Will Jr.' or `Hail Mary, full of grace. Help me put this needle in the right place,' " Ms. Houck recounted with a laugh. "If someone asked about his motorcycle riding, he'd answer, `I've got 15,000 fracture-free miles.'

"He was like an old-fashioned doctor. He took care of patients, and he didn't care whether they had insurance or could pay the bill. What he cared about was seeing that the patient was properly taken care of."

Ms. Houck said Dr. Friskey, who was a mentor to young staffers, brought a focused intensity to his work.

"He'd never take a break," she said. "He stayed with his patients. He wanted to keep them safe."

Dr. Robert Parker, a former vice president of medical affairs at Good Samaritan and now a physician adviser at the hospital, said Dr. Friskey kept a cool head and was committed to his patients. Dr. Parker knew him as a friend and colleague for 40 years.

"George was absolutely dedicated to his profession and his patients," Dr. Parker said. "He never got ruffled. He never took vacations. And he always came back to the hospital to check on his patients. And boy, could he get off some good cracks."

Dr. Friskey, son of a pipefitter, was born and raised on Patterson Park Avenue. He was a 1944 graduate of Polytechnic Institute and was an Army dental assistant during the waning days of World War II. He became interested in a medical career while in the military.

After being discharged in 1947 as a private, he attended the Johns Hopkins University on the GI Bill. He received his bachelor's degree in 1951 and his medical degree from the University of Maryland School of Medicine in 1955. He completed a rotating internship at St. Agnes Hospital in 1956 and a residency in pathology at University of Maryland Hospital in 1957.

In 1955, Dr. Friskey married Ruby E. Richardson. In 1957, he began practicing medicine from their rowhouse in the 4800 block of Wilkens Ave. Mrs. Friskey survives him.

In 1960, he began a residency in anesthesiology at University of Maryland School of Medicine, completing it in 1962. He practiced anesthesiology at Lutheran Hospital from 1962 to 1971 and at South Baltimore General and Bon Secours hospitals before joining the staff at Good Samaritan in 1975.

Dr. Friskey was a member of the American Medical Association.

He was a devoted homebody who liked spending time with his family and discussing medical matters.

"He was a very modest man who loved helping people," said his daughter, Linda Friskey of Columbia. "He was very serious about his work because he cared about people."

Dr. Friskey was an avid vegetable gardener and was known for growing tomatoes, which he shared with family, friends and hospital staffers.

Services will be held at 9 a.m. today at Hubbard Funeral Home, 4107 Wilkens Ave.

He also is survived by a son, Dr. John Friskey of Westchester, N.Y.; two sisters, Helen Lane of Freeland and Miriam Eaton of Kingsville; and a granddaughter, Samantha Mae Friskey of Westchester.

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