Dr. H.C. Landay, 58, dentist, clinic founder

September 12, 2002|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

Dr. Harvey Charles Landay, a Baltimore dentist and founder of People's Community Health Center Dental Clinic, died of colon cancer Sunday at Gilchrist Center for Hospice Care. He was 58 and lived in Pikesville.

Dr. Landay, who was known as Hank, was born in Baltimore and raised on Yosemite Avenue. He graduated from Milford Mill High School in 1961 and earned his bachelor's degree from the University of Maryland in 1965. He was a 1969 graduate of the University of Maryland Dental School.

After being discharged in 1972 as a captain in the Army Dental Corps, he began practicing general dentistry at offices in Towson, Parkville and Dundalk.

A quiet, introspective man who felt a deep responsibility toward others, he established a dental clinic as part of People's Community Health Center in Waverly in 1975. The clinic offers free health care to those in need, and Dr. Landay volunteered many hours each week.

"He was unique, never one to follow the crowd. From the beginning of our friendship while we were both serving in the Army Dental Corps, I sensed that here was a man whose many different interests had a common goal, that being that he was going to create better situations for people to live in," said Dr. Joel I. Goldberg, a Baltimore dentist.

"His intrinsic feeling for those less fortunate led him to donate the equipment and time to establish a place for those who might not otherwise have adequate dental attention."

In a 1990 Evening Sun profile, Dr. Landay explained his rationale behind the founding of the clinic.

"It is my desire to make dentistry available to those who might fall through the cracks, those who are in between being able to pay and not qualified to receive medical assistance. I guess you could say we give something the patients couldn't get anywhere else," he said.

"He was one good-hearted person. He was a very giving and unassuming man," said Pat Cassatt, the clinic's executive director, who said Dr. Landay was honored in 1995 for 20 years of volunteering.

"He encouraged all of his friends to volunteer and did things for people who had no access to dental services. He made this clinic a small oasis for them," she said.

His generosity extended to his own practice, where a patient's ability to pay never mattered and where clergymen never saw a bill, family members said.

Throughout his cancer treatments, he refused to cancel appointments, continuing to treat patients four days before his death.

"He had a deep commitment to his patients, and what always impressed me was his character. He never wore it on his sleeve, always did what was right and never talked about it," said Dr. John G. Bartlett, a friend and chief of infectious diseases at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

"His determination to live life fully to the end was remarkable. He faced death courageously but fought with all of his might to forestall it," he said.

An informal man who loathed ties and suit jackets, Dr. Landay also preferred used cars to flashy, expensive new models.

"He loved driving old rattletraps, and his last car was a bright, battered red Dodge Neon," said his wife of 30 years, the former Janet Little.

Dr. Landay played in several basketball and volleyball leagues. From 1997 to 2000, he was a member of the 50-55-year-old volleyball team in the Maryland Senior Olympics.

A voracious reader, he enjoyed history and biographies, often consuming a book a day.

Dr. Landay was a member of Beth El Synagogue, the American Civil Liberties Union and the Suburban Club. His professional memberships included the American Dental Association and the Maryland State Dental Association.

Services were held Tuesday.

In addition to his wife, he is survived by a son, John K. Landay of Baltimore; a daughter, Anne L. Landay of Pikesville; and two sisters, Shelley Schunick of Pikesville and Penny Landay of Santa Fe, N.M.; and several nephews and nieces.

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