Dr. Ernest S. Cross Jr., 87, internist, asst. professor of medicine, outdoorsman

September 09, 2001|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

Dr. Ernest S. Cross Jr., a retired Baltimore internist and outdoorsman, died Friday at the Blakehurst Life Care Community from complications of a stroke. He was 87.

The longtime Chestnut Avenue resident had lived at the Towson retirement community since 1993.

From 1948 until retiring from the practice of medicine in 1978, Dr. Cross maintained an office in the Medical Arts Building in downtown Baltimore. He remained a medical consultant to the Social Security Administration in Woodlawn from 1978 until retiring completely in 1982.

"He was a very lovely gentleman who was very kind," said Dr. Charles O'Donovan III, a Baltimore physician and longtime friend.

"I was always impressed with his general knowledge of medicine and how he interacted with patients. He really was a role model for me," he said.

"He was very understanding toward the younger physicians and on many occasions had the patience of Job," Dr. O'Donovan said.

"He was a wonderful person to be associated with, and took me in when I started in medicine in 1959 and went into the fray," said Dr. Hunter Wilson, who shared offices with Dr. Cross in the Medical Arts Building and retired earlier this year.

"He was a great help to me and even referred patients to me to help get my practice started," said Dr. Wilson.

Dr. Cross, who was born in Whitefield, N.H., and reared in Guilford, was the son of a physician. He was a 1933 graduate of Gilman School and earned his bachelor's degree from the Johns Hopkins University in 1937.

"He wanted to be an architect but that didn't work out, so he turned to medicine," said his wife of 54 years, the former Jane Crites, a clinical bacteriologist who grew up two blocks from her husband's boyhood home.

He earned his medical degree from the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in 1941 and completed his residency at the old Baltimore City Hospitals and Johns Hopkins Hospital.

During World War II, he was a battalion surgeon and served with Gen. George S. Patton's Third Army in Europe. He was discharged with the rank of major in 1946.

In addition to his medical practice, Dr. Cross was also an assistant professor of medicine at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, where he taught physical diagnosis.

Alexander Armstrong, a Gilman classmate and Ruxton resident, said, "He was caring and compassionate. No question about that."

He recalled that when Dr. Cross was his family's physician, "I had to have an operation and his medical objectivity was not precluded by his concern for me."

"He always said he was a `physician and not a technician' and `practiced the art of medicine,'" Mrs. Cross said.

In his private life, Dr. Cross enjoyed collecting and telling jokes.

"His jokes could be told in mixed company and some of them were damn funny," said Dr. O'Donovan, laughing.

His summer home in Randolph, N.H., near the White Mountains, enabled Dr. Cross to indulge his passion for fly fishing, hiking, chopping wood and other outdoor activities. He also liked working in his woodshop building toys for his grandchildren.

"He always said he `lived in Randolph and worked in Baltimore,'" said Mrs. Cross, laughing.

Dr. Cross was also an avid student of the Civil War and had a rather large library devoted to the subject.

"He was also a great conversationalist who enjoyed talking about philosophy and history," Dr. Wilson said.

A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. tomorrow in the chapel of the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer, 5603 N. Charles St., Baltimore.

In addition to his wife, he is survived by a son, E. Samuel Cross III of Fresno, Calif.; a daughter, Susan Cross Sellers of Colorado Springs, Colo.; a brother, Hershner Cross of Randolph, N.H.; and two granddaughters.

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