Dr. Robert Parker Sr., 82, hospital chief of medicine

October 07, 2002|By Tricia Bishop | Tricia Bishop,SUN STAFF

Dr. Robert Tarbert Parker Sr., former chief of medicine and vice president of medical affairs at Good Samaritan Hospital in Baltimore, died of a heart attack there Thursday, less than a week shy of his 83rd birthday.

Dr. Parker was born and raised in Towson, where his family owned Parker's Grocery Store for 57 years before it closed in 1999.

He attended Towson High School until his junior year. He spent his senior year at Gilman School, graduating in 1937.

Drawn to medicine after watching his younger sister cope with rheumatic heart disease, Dr. Parker earned his undergraduate degree from the Johns Hopkins University. In 1944, he earned his doctorate of medicine from the university's School of Medicine.

In 1942, he married Helen Smith, and the pair continued to live in Towson.

"He went from his parents' house to [their] house," said his daughter, Carolyn Parker Knott of Lutherville. "It's funny, he traveled to five different continents but lived his entire life within a three-mile [radius]."

After earning his medical degree, Dr. Parker completed an internship at Lincoln Medical Center in New York, a residency at Veterans Affairs Medical Center at Fort Howard and postdoctoral work at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Medicine.

He also completed a fellowship in infectious diseases, his subspecialty of internal medicine, at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, where he was later director of the division of infectious diseases and an associate dean in the late 1950s.

From 1959 until 1966, Dr. Parker was chief of private medical services at University Hospital (now known as University of Maryland Medical Center). Then he served as director of medicine and chief of staff at South Baltimore General Hospital (now known as Harbor Hospital) until he joined Good Samaritan Hospital as chief of medicine in 1974.

"Bob is one of the reasons Good Samaritan Hospital is here today," said former hospital President James A. Oakey. "He worked to build good relationships with Johns Hopkins and University of Maryland, which allowed him to attract good interns and residents. He then trained them to be superb physicians."

Dr. Parker loved his work in medicine, Mrs. Knott said.

"It was his calling, it wasn't just a profession," she said. "He loved it every day in every way. Work, family or church, those were his three interests." Dr. Parker was promoted from chief of medicine at Good Samaritan to vice president of medical affairs. He retired from the position in 1989, and a conference room was named after him. His portrait hangs in the hospital's main entrance.

Immediately after retiring, he took a job as special assistant to the hospital president. In 1994, he came out of retirement and returned to his role as medical affairs vice president. He retired again in 1998, but then took on the full-time job of physician adviser, holding that post until his death.

"Dr. Parker was known as a true gentleman and father figure to generations of physicians," said Dr. Muhammad Khan, an internist at Good Samaritan Hospital.

Dr. Parker brought Dr. Khan to Good Samaritan from Kansas City in 1979. After setting up an apartment and buying groceries for his pregnant wife and himself, Dr. Khan was broke. Dr. Parker wrote him a $1,000 check, for which he wouldn't accept repayment, to help pay for bills.

"Daddy's love and compassion were unconditional," Mrs. Knott said. "He could always listen, give wonderful advice and help carry your burdens, but you never knew any of his."

Services will be held at 10:30 a.m. today at Towson United Methodist Church, 501 Hampton Lane.

In addition to his wife and daughter, Dr. Parker is survived by three sons, Robert T. Parker Jr. of Severna Park, Joseph S. Parker of Vienna, Austria, and Craig W. Parker of Bel Air; and 10 grandchildren.

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