Dr. William Spicer, 74 authority on respiratory diseases, tuberculosis

April 21, 2000|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

Dr. William S. Spicer Jr., an authority in the field of tuberculosis and respiratory diseases and a former professor of medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, died Sunday of cancer at Gilchrist Center for Hospice Care. He was 74.

Dr. Spicer, a resident of the Woodbrook section of Baltimore County, had a career at the University of Maryland School of Medicine that spanned three decades until his retirement in 1984, when he became director of the medical residency program at Greater Baltimore Medical Center. He retired a second time in 1991.

His long association with the University of Maryland began in 1954 with his residency in internal medicine. He was later appointed to the faculty as a professor in the schools of medicine, pharmacy and social and preventive medicine.

An innovative educator who led a busy professional life, Dr. Spicer created and chaired the department of primary care programs and co-developed and served as medical director of the primary care nurse practitioner program. In addition, he was dean of health care programs and head of the division of pulmonary diseases.

"His professional work enlivened many fields of medicine," said Dr. Theodore E. Woodward, an expert on infectious diseases and former chairman of the Department of Medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.

"He had a keen mind and a sharp wit. His clinical knowledge was coupled with an authoritative and skeptical mind," Dr. Woodward said yesterday. He described Dr. Spicer as a "warm and thoughtful human being."

Dr. Spicer was born in Kansas City, Mo., the son of a physician. He graduated from high school in 1941 and earned a bachelor's degree from the University of California at Los Angeles in 1944. He was a 1949 graduate of the University of Kansas School of Medicine, where he was awarded the Ginsberg Prize for Internal Medicine.

He continued his studies at the Trudeau Laboratories and was a research fellow at the American College of Physicians at the University of Pennsylvania.

Dr. Spicer served during the Korean War as a captain with the 2nd Infantry Division's Artillery Medical Company and later was the division's artillery surgeon. His decorations included the Bronze Star.

"I had heard about Bill and his work with respiratory diseases, and I went to Korea to see him," Dr. Woodward recalled.

"The first time I met him, he was sitting in a foxhole looking toward North Korea. That's when I invited him to come to the University of Maryland," he said.

"He was highly intelligent, had a great, deep concern for others and a compelling desire to tackle difficult problems. Also, he had remarkable capabilities as an internist," Dr. Woodward said.

Dr. Edward P. Koza, an internist who trained under Dr. Spicer, said, "He's one of a kind. He always kept the focus on his students and not him. What made him the happiest was when his students could successfully navigate the path. That's what concerned him."

Dr. Koza described Dr. Spicer as an "innovator" who always "kept his eyes on the future of medicine. And when you were with Bill, he was preparing you for that future."

Dr. Spicer, a tall man with gray hair and blue eyes who enjoyed playing tennis, singing and playing the piano, was a member of numerous local and national medical organizations.

He had been a chairman of the Maryland State Board of Health and Mental Hygiene and was a member of the National Advisory Committee on Community Air Pollution and chairman of the first American Medical Association Air Pollution Research Conference. He also fought for effective laws to control air pollution.

He was also a member and chairman of the Armed Forces Epidemiological Board and was widely published in medical journals. He was a consultant to the University of California at San Diego, the University of Puerto Rico, the Veterans Administration, the U.S. Public Health Service, the National Academy of Science and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

"He was a superior teacher, an excellent organizer, with the great facility to stimulate cooperation in learning between various groups. He lived a good life and gave so much to medicine and our community," said Dr. Woodward.

"For someone who did so much, he was so unassuming," said a daughter, Marianna Brooks of St. Simons Island, Ga.

He was a member of St. Stephens Traditional Episcopal Church in Timonium, where services were held yesterday

He is survived by his wife of 52 years, Evelyn Vogt Spicer; a son, William S. Spicer III of Baltimore; two other daughters, Constance Zimmerman of Bivalve and Catherine Tolliver of Richardson, Texas; three grandchildren; and a great-grandson.

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