Eleanor Scott Goldbloom Bassett, 94, doctor, women's rights advocate

August 24, 2003|By Athima Chansanchai and Doug Donovan | Athima Chansanchai and Doug Donovan,SUN STAFF

Eleanor Scott Goldbloom Bassett, a longtime Baltimore physician and advocate of women's health issues and rights, died Monday at an assisted-living home in Pittsburgh of a heart attack. She was 94.

Dr. Scott, as she was known professionally throughout her more than three decades of practice as an obstetrician and gynecologist, was born in Philadelphia. At the age of 5, she knew she wanted to be a doctor, said her daughter, Ellen G. Kight of Pittsburgh. She said her mother would often choose that role rather than a nurse in childhood role plays.

By the time her mother was 10, she was sketching the human anatomy, showing a "flabbergasted" surgeon about to perform an appendectomy on her a picture of an appendix and describing to him in full detail the procedure he was about to do.

She received a bachelor's degree in English from the University of Wisconsin in 1931. She started medical school at Wisconsin before finishing at Cornell University, where she was one of four women in her medical school class, her daughter said. She received her medical degree in 1935.

She loved to travel and had a deep appreciation for the fine arts. She took a year off from school to live in Austria and study modern dance, while also traveling throughout Europe and studying the arts.

While she was at Cornell, she interned with Margaret Sanger, founder of the International Planned Parenthood Federation.

Dr. Scott married Herbert Goldbloom in 1944 and they moved to Baltimore that year. She worked at several local hospitals over 33 years: Johns Hopkins, the Greater Baltimore Medical Center, Franklin Square, Church Home and Hospital, Sinai and Union Memorial.

"The war gave her the extra advantage to get onto the staffs at several Baltimore hospitals because most of the men were away at war," her daughter said. "She was a real pioneer for women's rights."

In the 1950s and 1960s, Dr. Scott served as a police physician who examined rape victims. It was also during this time that she established herself as a pioneer in women's reproductive rights.

"She could not prefer abortions, she preferred contraceptives, but if worse came to worse, she believed that a woman should have the right to choose," said son Donald Gold- bloom of Grantsville.

Dr. Scott spoke at local middle and high schools about sex education. Also during the 1960s, Dr. Scott was the chief of obstetrics at the former Church Home and Hospital.

Dr. Scott retired to Sanibel Island, Fla., in 1978. Three years later, Herbert Goldbloom died. In 1988, she moved to Fort Myers, Fla., and in the early 1990s, she co-founded the Fort Myers Planned Parenthood chapter. "She was concerned about shootings and bombings. She was concerned about her family. That never stopped her," said her daughter.

Donald Goldbloom said his mother was a phenomenal fund-raiser. "She worked her Rolodex of friends and raised more than $10,000 for starting that chapter," he said. "It was a lesson in fund raising for all of us."

In 1992, a long-lost love reappeared in Dr. Scott's life -- Richard Bassett, a Harvard graduate and former art director at the Milton Academy near Boston who had had a whirlwind Philadelphia-to-Europe romance with her in the 1930s. She broke off the relationship to finish medical school. They had corresponded over the years, and in 1992 Dr. Scott traveled to Boston, where they were reunited. Mr. Bassett was 92 years old and Dr. Scott was 83. They were married that year.

"It was like a teen-age romance all over again," Donald Goldbloom said.

Mr. Bassett died in 1995.

A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. Sept. 6 at Druid Ridge Cemetery, 7900 Park Heights Ave.

In addition to Dr. Scott's daughter and son, survivors include a sister, Henrietta Gay of Gwynedd, Pa.; a stepson, Jay Goldbloom of Washington; and four grandchildren.

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