One family's prescription for success

UM medical student graduating today is 4th-generation doctor

May 26, 2000|By Diana K. Sugg | Diana K. Sugg,SUN STAFF

Today, Charles "Chad" Hobelmann III will graduate from the University of Maryland School of Medicine, like his father, his grandfather and his great-grandfather before him.

Another Hobelmann, Greg, is on course to graduate next year from the medical school, followed by his younger brother, Todd, in 2003.

The oldest surviving Hobelmann physician, Dr. Charles Frederick Hobelmann, 80, says it's a coincidence.

Maybe. But it seems more a case of old-fashioned values, of fathers who sparked a love of science in their sons, and sons who looked up to their fathers.

"I never thought of doing anything different. Maybe it was just a matter of a son always wanting to do what his dad did," said Dr. Charles "Coke" Hobelmann Jr., 53. "Perhaps because we're cut from the same stone."

Through all the changes in medicine over the past century, the Hobelmann physicians and physicians-to-be have shared the same experiences in medical school: listening to long lectures in the wooden seats of Davidge Hall, sharing a cadaver with three other students in anatomy and loving their work with patients.

Each practiced medicine, or plans to, in Baltimore. And each father has paid for his son, or sons, to attend medical school.

Today, no one in the family knows why the first Hobelmann physician wanted to earn his medical degree.

Dr. Frederick W. Hobelmann, whose father started a brewery in Baltimore, graduated in 1901. He became a urologist. His son, Charles, majored in chemistry at the Johns Hopkins University, but a friend persuaded him to go to medical school at the University of Maryland.

Charles Hobelmann rode the trolley to school, spending long days there. Because of World War II, teachers crammed four years of work into two years and five months. The tuition was $125 a year. He graduated in fall 1943 and became an anesthesiologist.

When his son, Charles Jr., came of age, he also turned to Maryland. By then, it cost about $600 a year. After he graduated in 1971, he followed his father into anesthesiology at Union Memorial Hospital, where they worked together several years.

Hobelmann Jr. regaled sons Chad, Greg and Todd at dinner with tales of children who lost their fingers to firecrackers or lawn mowers or bullets. The boys listened intently until the final moment, when their father pulled out a Polaroid from his pocket showing the damage.

They learned lessons and became fascinated with medicine. Like the other Hobelmanns, they developed an affinity for math and science. Meanwhile, their father was their personal pediatrician.

After Todd, age 7, crashed on his bike riding down a hill in Towson, his father gently took him into his office and wrapped his wounds in gauze with great fanfare. When Chad cut his hand, his father stitched it up. And when the boys played sports at Loyola Blakefield, their father served as team physician, even letting Greg sew one stitch on a friend's forehead.

"You see all this, and think, this is pretty neat," said Chad Hobelmann, 28, whose wife is due to have a baby in September. He was put on the waiting list twice at Maryland but kept pursuing it until he was admitted.

The school's program, location and comparatively affordable cost drew him there. So did the family legacy. During his four years, he's sought advice from his father. And when his brother Greg started medical school, he was able to pass along tips.

"It's sort of moving down the line," Chad Hobelmann said. The brothers lived together in their mother's grandmother's house on Howard Street. Their father pays their tuition, which is about $15,000 a year.

By the time the third brother, Todd, was admitted, the medical school's director of admissions asked Greg Hobelmann, "Is that it? There are no more Hobelmanns, are there?"

"No," he answered. "Not this generation, at least."

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