Dr. Lee Riley, 68, Hopkins professor of orthopedics

March 14, 2001|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,SUN STAFF

Dr. Lee H. Riley Jr., a retired professor of orthopedics at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, died of cancer Thursday at his Homeland residence. He was 68.

Dr. Riley, a professor emeritus of orthopedic surgery and former chairman of the Department of Orthopedic Surgery at Hopkins who retired in 1997, was a leader in the use of artificial joints.

One of the first surgeons in the country to replace a diseased hip with an artificial joint, he was involved 30 years ago in the design and creation of a total knee replacement. He worked with other surgeons to perfect spinal fusion in the neck.

"He was a pioneer for total hip replacement in the U.S.," said Dr. Gaylord Clark of Stevenson, a friend and orthopedist. "He was a man of extraordinary integrity. He had a compelling and infectious optimism for everything he undertook. ... He exemplified the highest academic spirit of Hopkins."

Dr. Paul Sponseller, head of children's orthopedics at Hopkins, said, "His descriptions of the surgical technique for the fusion of vertebrae of the neck are still considered the standard for those learning today.

"He was an extremely gentle and principled person. He always looked for the best in people, and in seeking the best, he brought out the best. He probably trained more of today's leaders of orthopedic surgery than anyone in the country."

Dr. Frank J. Frassica, chairman of orthopedics at Hopkins, said, "If you were ever sick, you wanted him to take care of you. He was the most calm individual no matter how stressful the situation."

Dr. John Kostuik, head of spinal surgery at Hopkins, said, "He was a compassionate and caring person, not at all dictatorial as a department chair."

"He was the conscience of orthopedics in the state," said Dr. Charles E. Silberstein, an associate professor at Hopkins medical school. "When innovations came out, he looked at them critically, scientifically, whether they were proven. He was honest and forthright with his patients, colleagues and trainees."

Dr. David Hungerford, a Hopkins orthopedics professor, said Dr. Riley's "lasting contribution was in his modeling of compassionate care with modern treatment. A lot of his patients became his friends."

Dr. Riley wrote more than 80 scholarly articles and was co-editor of a three-volume work, "Atlas of Orthopaedic Surgery."

He was a founding member and president of the Cervical Spine Research Society and the Knee Society.

Hopkins honored him in 1997 by dedicating a professorship in his name.

Born in St. Louis and reared in Oklahoma City, he received bachelor's and medical degrees from the University of Oklahoma in 1953 and 1957, respectively.

He completed his residency in orthopedic surgery at Hopkins in 1963, when he became an instructor at the medical school. He was orthopedic surgeon in chief and chairman of the department of orthopedic surgery from 1979 to 1991, when he was named a distinguished service professor.

He also served on the Hopkins Hospital's board of trustees from 1989 to 1991 and was chairman of the Medical School Council and the Hopkins Medical Board.

He was a former president and board member of the Johns Hopkins Faculty Club and was a member of the Elkridge Club and the 14 West Hamilton Street Club, both in Baltimore, and the Cosmos Club in Washington.

In 1957, he married Helen Reed Mutch, who survives him.

A memorial service for Dr. Riley will be held at 4 p.m. Tuesday at Grace United Methodist Church, 5407 N. Charles St., where he was a member.

He is also survived by two sons, Dr. Reed David Riley, an assistant professor of medicine at Hopkins, and Dr. Lee Hunter Riley III, an orthopedic surgeon at Hopkins, both of Baltimore; a sister, Suzanne Riley Rambo of Alamo, Calif.; and two grandchildren.

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