Dr. Thomas Hobbins, 61, sleep disorder specialist and human rights activist

September 26, 2001|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,SUN STAFF

Dr. Thomas Eben Hobbins, a physician, sleep disorder specialist, and health and human rights activist, died Sunday of a cerebral hemorrhage at North Arundel Hospital. He was 61 and lived in the Poplar Hill section of North Baltimore.

Trained as a specialist in lung disorders, he taught at the University of Maryland Medical School and until recently had served as medical director of the Maryland Sleep Disorders Center in Towson.

He was a board member of the Maryland Citizens' Health Initiative, a grass-roots group that advocates health care for all Marylanders. He also fought handgun violence, teen smoking and environmental degradation.

"He was a very principled man whose values were consistent over decades," said his brother, James M. Hobbins of Potomac. "He was not given to whim or fancy. He was extremely dedicated to his patients and to their good health, not to their money or their insurance."

His brother recalled that in the late 1960s, when the Poor People's March camped on The Mall in Washington, Dr. Hobbins often visited the tent city to serve the demonstrators.

"He was a humanitarian," his brother said. "He had no ego. He never relished power for its own sake. Whatever authority he had, he used it to benefit patients or the young doctors he was teaching."

In recent years, he had turned his attention to the goal of good health care for all Marylanders, regardless of their ability to pay.

"He knew how to explain -- in simple and eloquent terms -- the human dimension of the health care crisis in Maryland," said Vincent DeMarco, executive director of the Maryland Citizens' Health Initiative.

"He was the epitome of what a physician can and should be," said Glenn Schneider, deputy director of the Health Care For All Campaign.

Born in New York City and raised in Montclair, N.J., he earned a bachelor of science degree from the University of Pennsylvania and a medical degree from Hahnemann University in Philadelphia. He interned at University of Pennsylvania Hospital and did his residency at the University of Washington Hospital in Seattle.

He worked for three years at the National Institutes of Health, helping develop the rubella vaccine.

In his free time, Dr. Hobbins kayaked on the Magothy River near his second home. He also went in-line skating along Roland Avenue each morning.

A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Oct. 20 at the Stony Run Friends Meeting, 5116 N. Charles St.

Surviving, in addition to his brother, are his wife of 31 years, the former Jeannette Murkland; a son, T. Eben Hobbins Jr. of Newport, Ky.; a daughter, Wendy Hobbins McGrath of Washington; and another brother, Richard R. Hobbins of Jackson, Wyo.

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