Dr. Philip Whittlesey, 84, city internist

February 19, 2003|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,SUN STAFF

Dr. Philip Whittlesey, an internist who practiced medicine in Baltimore for 55 years, died Thursday at Union Memorial Hospital of complications from bone marrow disease. The Roland Park resident was 84.

Born and raised in the Boston suburb of Newton, he earned his undergraduate degree from Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine. He received a medical degree from the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine during World War II.

Dr. Whittlesey's medical training was largely paid for by the Army in return for wartime service. By the time he had graduated and been through airborne training -- including many parachute jumps -- the war was over.

While attending Hopkins, he met his wife, the former Virginia Markell King, a Baltimore native whose brother, Dr. Joseph D.B. King, was in the same medical school class. They were married in 1952.

Spurning what family members called "corporate medicine," Dr. Whittlesey referred to himself as a medical "dinosaur" for keeping a solo private practice and maintaining lengthy sessions with patients at his offices -- first on East Chase Street in Mount Vernon, then at 600 W. Northern Parkway, and finally at 1190 W. Northern Parkway.

He saw his last patient this month, on the day before he went into the hospital.

"He hated HMOs," said son Markell Whittlesey of Baltimore. "He placed great emphasis on getting to know his patients as people first."

Dr. Whittlesey was an associate professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins, where he imparted his patient-oriented view of medicine to young doctors while teaching a class in diagnostic techniques.

He had also served on the Medical Advisory Board of the state Motor Vehicle Administration and consulted at the Social Security Administration in Woodlawn.

Family members said he was imbued with curiosity and enthusiasm, with wide-ranging interests that included bird-watching at Mount Desert, Maine, and in Hampden, where he routinely kept a lookout for the chimney swifts nesting in the Mill Center on Falls Road.

He also enjoyed bonsai gardening, computers and kites, and he exchanged e-mail with people around the globe.

Until about five years ago, he flew a single-engine, two-seater Cessna 150, which he kept at Martin State Airport. He flew afternoon trips throughout the Middle Atlantic region. He was a lifelong stargazer and, in his late 70s, read and reread all the works of Shakespeare.

He had been an active athlete for much of his life, in running, rowing, cycling and swimming -- in addition to playing croquet. In 1969, he scaled Grand Teton in Wyoming, and he completed a marathon several years later.

No services are planned.

In addition to his wife and son, he is survived by two other sons, Peter Christie "Chris" Whittlesey of Farmington Hills, Mich., and John Theodore King "Jock" Whittlesey, a State Department official posted in Beijing; a brother, Emmet Whittlesey of Hartford, Conn.; a sister, Frances Rushforth of Ottawa, Ont.; and five grandchildren.

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