Dr. Elroy Young, 79, one of the first black orthopedic surgeons in Md.

July 19, 2002|By Andrew A. Green | Andrew A. Green,SUN STAFF

Dr. Elroy Young, one of the first African-American orthopedic surgeons in Maryland, died of cancer Tuesday at his Forest Park home. He was 79.

Born in Olmstead, Ill., he briefly attended Illinois State University in Normal before entering the U.S. Medical Corps in World War II and serving in France. He used the GI Bill to return to school, earning a bachelor's degree in chemistry from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1946 and a medical degree from Meharry Medical College in Nashville in 1951.

He was married that year to Walta G. Chisholm. She died in 1978.

Dr. Richard Ruffin, a urologist from Columbus, Ohio, who grew up near Dr. Young and was his roommate in college and medical school, said Dr. Young showed a powerful determination toward medicine.

The pair grew up in segregated southern Illinois and made it to Illinois State. It was a teachers' college at the time, Dr. Ruffin said, but the two friends took all the science classes they could to prepare for medical school.

"He worked hard all the way through school. He shoveled manure, he was a porter on the railroad in the summer, and family members would lend him money to put him through school," said his son, C. Wayne Young of Reisterstown. "He paid everyone back in full, probably plus more after he got out. He was just a very determined and brilliant man."

After an internship at Lincoln Hospital in Durham, N.C., and a residency in orthopedics at Howard University Hospital in Washington, Dr. Young moved to Baltimore in 1956, where he began a solo practice.

It wasn't easy at first to be a black doctor in Baltimore, Mr. Young said.

"He stuck with Union Trust because it was the only bank that would give a doctor who had graduated from a residency ... a loan to start an office," Mr. Young said.

During his career of more than 50 years, Dr. Young was affiliated with Provident, Lutheran, Kernan and St. Agnes hospitals. He was named a member of the Kernan Hospital Board of Trustees in 1978. He was a former president of the Maryland Orthopedic Association and served as grand chaplain of the Chi Delta Mu medical fraternity.

The Meharry Medical College gave him its President's Award in 1976, and the Monumental City Medical Society honored him at its first Pioneer in Medicine awards ceremony last year.

Lionel Fultz, who met Dr. Young in basic training at Camp Rucker in Alabama, said Dr. Young "was a striver" who never forgot where he was from.

"My feeling is that the only reason he didn't get rich was, I think, he had a lot of patients who couldn't pay, but he used to take care of them anyway," Mr. Fultz said. "He's from southern Illinois, and I think the country never left him."

Dr. Young also was a jazz and blues aficionado who collected thousands of recordings.

"He had the best record collection that you would ever see," Mr. Fultz said. "He had records that dated back to the early '30s that he bought when he was in high school."

After his wife died, Dr. Young began to see a widow he knew through medical circles, Maybel H. Grant. He used his jazz collection to woo her, she said.

"When we were courting, he used to make tapes for me, and he would bring them over," she said.

The couple were married in 1980, the same year Dr. Young became a member of the Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church. He served as deacon, elder and a Session member.

A funeral service for Dr. Young will be held at noon tomorrow at Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church, 2110 Madison Ave.

In addition to his wife and son, he is survived by a daughter, Janice Lansey of Takoma, Wash.; a brother, Floyd Burney of St. Louis; a sister, Mildred Richardson of Webster Grove, Mo.; a stepson, J.P. Grant III of Columbia; two stepdaughters, Linda Grant Wells of Washington, D.C., and Minnie Adams of Glen Rock, N.J.; and seven grandchildren.

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