Dr. J.H. Mason Knox III, 90, surgeon, city hospital official

January 22, 2002|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,SUN STAFF

Dr. J.H. Mason Knox III, a retired surgeon and former Church Home and Hospital official, died Thursday of complications from pneumonia and heart failure at Sinai Hospital. He was 90 and had lived in Riderwood for more than 50 years.

He had been medical staff chief and medical board chairman of the old Church Home and Hospital on Broadway in East Baltimore before his retirement 25 years ago. He also had a private surgical practice and saw patients at a Belvedere Avenue office in North Baltimore.

"He was a superb surgeon who just liked taking care of people and attending to his practice. He never went out for joining societies and getting honors," said Dr. Robert E. Mason, a retired John Hopkins internist and cardiologist. "He had such good judgment and executed his surgeries so beautifully. His skills were reflected in his good, muscular hands. And he was awfully good" at mechanical tasks.

Dr. Mason recalled yesterday that his friend and colleague "was such a solid person with a personal charisma that made him beloved by all around him."

The family of Dr. Knox, who was born in Baltimore, had ties to medicine. His father, Dr. J.H. Mason Knox Jr., was Children's Hygiene Bureau chief of the state Health Department. His eldest sister, Dr. Katharine Knox Cutts, was a Providence, R.I., pediatrician before her 1988 death.

The younger Dr. Knox's wife, the former Frances Vaughan, was a Johns Hopkins Hospital social worker and board member of the Children's Guild. She died in 1999.

Dr. Knox was raised on Wendover Road in Guilford and attended Gilman School before receiving his high school diploma at Phillips Exeter Academy in Exeter, N.H.

As a young man, Dr. Knox often accompanied his father on trips through rural parts of the state. They visited locales where doctors were scarce and knowledge of good health practices was limited. They warned it was necessary to boil milk to kill germs.

Dr. Knox was a member of Yale University Class of 1934 and earned a medical degree from the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in 1938. He first became associated with Church Home and Hospital in 1939 as a surgical resident.

In World War II, he was an Army field surgeon who served in Gen. George S. Patton's 3rd Army in France and Germany. He was discharged with the rank of captain and received the Bronze Star.

Dr. Knox was recalled as a surgeon who put his patients first and spent his free time with his wife, three daughters, dogs and many hobbies.

"He was the kind of father who cut our hair, bathed us, taught us to shoot a .22, play bridge, wire a lamp, drive a stick-shift car, shuck oysters and raise lambs," said daughter Marion Knox Barthelme Fort of Houston. "He dug us a pond for ice-skating and sewed up wounds when there was a skating accident."

A memorial service is being planned for March.

He is survived by two other daughters, Elizabeth Vaughan Schwarz of Summit, N.J., and Frances Knox Butler of Lafayette, Calif.; a sister, Helen Miller of Baltimore; seven grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.

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