Dr. Theodore King Sr., 71, official at Hopkins, health care advocate

May 25, 2002|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

Dr. Theodore M. King Sr., former vice president for medical affairs at Johns Hopkins Hospital and former chairman of the department of gynecology and obstetrics, died Wednesday from complications of surgery at the hospital. He was 71.

"Ted King devoted much of his professional career to Johns Hopkins, taking on one difficult assignment after the other in the 1970s and 1980s," said Ronald R. Peterson, president of the Johns Hopkins Hospital and Health System.

"He left here only to pursue his other keen interest: improved maternal health worldwide. He also truly enjoyed international status," he said.

FOR THE RECORD - An obituary published in Saturday's editions of The Sun for Dr. Theodore M. King Sr. misstated the date of a memorial service.
The service will be held at 3 p.m. June 12 in Hurd Hall, Johns Hopkins Hospital, 600 N. Wolfe St.
The Sun regrets the error.

From 1991 until retiring in 1998, he was president and chief operating officer of Family Health International, a Durham, N.C.-based organization that works to improve reproductive and family health throughout the world in partnership with universities, ministries of health and nongovernment organizations.

The Ruxton resident was born and reared in Quincy, Ill., and after graduation from high school, earned his bachelor's degree in biology and chemistry from Quincy College in 1950. In 1953, he earned his master's degree in zoology from the University of Illinois at Urbana.

He earned his doctorate in physiology from Michigan State University at Lansing, and his medical degree from the University of Chicago, both in 1959.

Dr. King completed a surgical internship at New York's Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center, and a residency in obstetrics and gynecology at Sloane Hospital for Woman, also in New York.

In 1965, he joined the faculty of the University of Missouri School of Medicine as assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology, and physiology.

Dr. George R. Huggins, professor of OB-GYN at Johns Hopkins Medical School, was chief resident at the University of Missouri when he got to know Dr. King.

"He was a very charismatic and energetic individual. For us at the time, most of the faculty was home-grown, and here was this man who had an international reputation and was so stimulating. We felt quite blessed by his presence," Dr. Huggins said.

Dr. King left the University of Missouri School of Medicine in 1968, when he was named professor and chairman of obstetrics and gynecology at Albany (N.Y.) Medical Center, a position he held until joining Hopkins as professor and director of gynecology and obstetrics.

In 1983, he was named the hospital's vice president for medical affairs. During the 1980s, he served as president of Wyman Park Medical Center and North Charles Hospital, when they were acquired by the Johns Hopkins Health System.

Dr. King, whose research interests centered on contraception and abortion, was the author of more than 150 publications on such topics as heart disease and pregnancy, abortion and female sterilization.

While at Hopkins, he was the driving force behind the creation and funding of the Johns Hopkins Program for International Education in Gynecology and Obstetrics, which was designed to work with institutions in the United States and developing countries for the advancement of reproductive health issues.

Dr. King later served as trustee and president of that education program.

"Throughout his career, Dr. King made the care of the disadvantaged, whether it be a pregnant adolescent in Baltimore or a Turkish mother of five ... a priority. ... He often commented that one of the rules of educational institutions was to shorten the time span between the discovery of a useful medical advance and its introduction into the field, particularly at the grassroots level," Dr. Ronald T. Burkman, former director of that education program, said in a 1991 tribute to Dr. King.

"I think he wanted to get back into the research area which he loved and that's why he went to work for Family Health International," said Dr. Huggins.

Ted B. Chambers, administrator of the Children's Center at Johns Hopkins Hospital and a longtime friend, described Dr. King as a "very compassionate man."

"He was the consummate physician, a real standout, who had patients for decades," he said. "They not only called him for medical advice but personal advice, as well."

Mr. Chambers added, "He was a very sensitive man who had broad and eclectic interests."

Dr. King was a consultant to the Ford Foundation, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics, University of Nairobi, and the National Institute of Child Health and Development.

In his leisure time, Dr. King enjoyed studying European history and gourmet cooking.

Services will be held at 2 p.m. tomorrow at Ruck Funeral Home, 1050 York Road in Towson. A memorial service will be held at 3 p.m. June 10 in Hurd Hall, Johns Hopkins Hospital, 600 N. Wolfe St.

Dr. King is survived by his wife of 47 years, the former Lilly Nemoto; a son, Dr. Theodore M. King Jr. of Baltimore; a daughter, Dr. Karen E. King of Roland Park; a sister, Bonnie Gibbs of Quincy; and four grandchildren.

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