Albert Steiner, 89, otolaryngology chief , surgeon at Maryland General Hospital

July 04, 2000|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

Dr. Albert Steiner, a Baltimore otolaryngologist and former chief of otolaryngology, head and neck surgery at Maryland General Hospital, died Sunday of melanoma at his Owings Mills home. He was 89.

An ear, nose and throat specialist, Dr. Steiner was chief of otolaryngology at Maryland General from 1973 to 1986. He remained in private practice until retiring in 1995.

For the last 15 years of his career, Dr. Steiner's Armory Place office was jammed with people from all walks of life. Earlier, he had maintained an office on Eutaw Place.

"His office was a hodge-podge of ethnicity, the wealthy and welfare moms, docs, lawyers and sanitation workers," said a son, Marc B. Steiner, a WJHU-FM radio host.

"He never charged cops or firemen or men of the cloth, hooker, transvestites and a lot of old people. As a matter of fact, he probably [hardly] charged anybody.

"People would wait for hours to see him in his office. He never let a patient leave until they were thoroughly checked and until he was sure they understood everything about their problem and treatment.

"When he gave up surgery, he was still charging people $125 for a tonsillectomy, and office visits, even when he retired, were only $15," according to his son.

"He really epitomized the Saturday Evening Post image of a physician," said Dr. Karl Diehn, a Baltimore otolaryngologist.

"He was a people person who had a broad following and a large practice. I never ever heard anything bad about the guy," he said.

The son of immigrant parents who came to Baltimore from Poland in 1905, Dr. Steiner was raised in East Baltimore, where his father was a baker.

"He had always wanted to be a doctor. He was an idealist who believed in helping people," Marc Steiner said.

A 1929 graduate of City College, Dr. Steiner earned a pharmacy degree from the University of Maryland in 1932.

After earning his medical degree in 1937 from the University of Maryland Medical School and completing his ear, nose and throat residency at Brooklyn Eye and Ear Hospital in New York, he began his career working in veterans hospitals from 1939 to 1941.

During World War II, he was an Army medic serving with Gen. George S. Patton's 3rd Army. He worked in military field hospitals, set up battalion aid stations and treated the wounded at the Battle of the Bulge.

After landing in Normandy, Dr. Steiner went AWOL to return to England to marry Maisie Round in 1944. She died in 1983.

After being discharged with the rank of captain, Dr. Steiner returned to Baltimore to join the staff of the old Baltimore Eye, Ear and Throat Hospital, where he instituted a training program in otolaryngology that was later incorporated in hospitals throughout the world.

A social liberal, Dr. Steiner was one of the first Baltimore physicians to integrate his waiting room in 1950. "He also integrated [Baltimore Eye, Ear and Throat Hospital] quietly, which was his way," Marc Steiner said.

"When one of his patients, Henry Parks of Parks Sausage, was there for surgery, Dad put him in a private room. The nurses had tried to put him in the `colored' ward, and Dad literally stood in the doorway and refused to let them move him. They had successfully integrated the hospital, which then began to dismantle the colored ward. He didn't abide any injustice and felt there should be no color line in America."

"He was a great human being, a wonderful man," said Dr. Luis Rosell, a retired otolaryngologist. "He was good with the patients, doctors and with everybody. They all loved him."

Dr. Steiner was a past president of the American Rhinologic Society.

A short, quiet man with salt and pepper hair who was seldom without a necktie and his glasses, he enjoyed walking, playing his violin and flower gardening. He also was an opera buff.

Services will be held at 10 a.m. tomorrow at Sol Levinson & Bros. Inc., 8900 Reisterstown Road in Pikesville.

In addition to his son, Dr. Steiner is survived by another son, Brian J. Steiner of Seattle; a daughter, Deana Steiner Smith of Rock Cave, W.Va.; seven grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.

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