Dr. Samuel P. Scalia, a retired Pikesville physician who conducted research on histoplasmosis and tuberculosis while working with the Baltimore County Health Department, died Tuesday of a neurodegenerative disorder at the Gilchrist Center for Hospice Care in Towson. The Timonium resident was 80.
Born in New York City to immigrant parents from Sicily, Dr. Scalia graduated from Peter Stuyvesant High School in New York at the age of 16. He received a bachelor's degree from New York University and a medical degree from Hahnemann Medical College, now MCP Hahnemann University, in Philadelphia.
He completed an internship and residency in pathology at Fordham Hospital in New York, where he met his wife, the former Ethel Kussel of New York City. The couple married in 1947 and moved to Baltimore a year later so that Dr. Scalia could participate in a residency program at South Baltimore General Hospital, now Harbor Hospital.
In 1950, Dr. Scalia opened a private practice in internal medicine in Pikesville, where he worked with patients until his retirement in 1991.
He served from 1954 to 1956 in the Navy in the Panama Canal Zone and worked part time with the Baltimore County Health Department, serving as chief of tuberculosis control from 1957 to 1974, and senior venereal disease clinician and consultant from 1974 to 1983.
In his public health work, Dr. Scalia met with patients and helped them to understand their medical problems, said Lowell Stewart, a public health investigator with Baltimore County.
"He was the kind of guy who did it all," said Mr. Stewart of his former colleague. "He saw patients and ... he had his hands in all parts of the two programs. The guy was a ... hard worker, and he always wanted a job well done."
It was during his work with Baltimore County that Dr. Scalia performed research on histoplasmosis, an infectious disease caused by inhaling the microscopic spores of a type of fungus associated with bird droppings. The results of a skin test he administered to Baltimore County pupils were published in 1968 in the Maryland State Medical Journal.
Dr. Scalia is also credited with organizing a five-year tuberculin skin-testing program for Baltimore County high school students and revising and modernizing the county's tuberculosis control program.
As a venereal disease clinician, he took a stand against sexual promiscuity. In a 1972 article in The Evening Sun, Dr. Scalia reported a rise in incidents of venereal disease among young adults in Baltimore County. He blamed parents and school administrators for failing to persuade young adults to abstain from premarital sex.
"I blame it on the schools," Dr. Scalia said at the time. "They are forsaking the three R's for the three P's - Permissiveness, Promiscuity and the Pill."
He was a fellow of the American College of Chest Physicians, a former president of the Maryland Thoracic Society and a member of the Baltimore County Medical Association. Dr. Scalia was a longtime staff member at St. Agnes Hospital, now St. Agnes HealthCare, in Baltimore, where he served as an adviser and mentor to medical students.
"His level of expertise and experience was a source of wisdom for new members entering the medical profession," said Kyle Swisher, president of the St. Agnes Hospital Foundation.
Dr. Scalia was also a devoted fan of opera and big-band music, said daughter Geraldine Scalia of New York City. Ms. Scalia said that her father also enjoyed fine wines and fresh seafood, especially oyster chowder and pasta with shrimp sauce on Christmas Eve.
Ms. Scalia said that her father had a difficult time retiring from his medical practice because he so enjoyed keeping up with his patients, some of whom sought him out because he spoke Italian. Although his wife pushed for moving to Florida or California after he retired, Dr. Scalia wanted to stay in the Baltimore area.
"He hung his first shingle out on Reisterstown Road in 1950," Ms. Scalia said of her father. "He was well known in the community, and he really never wanted to leave, not even to go back to New York. He was a Marylander." Services were held yesterday.
Besides his wife and daughter, Dr. Scalia is survived by two sons, Philip Scalia of Cherry Valley, N.Y., and Michael Scalia of Vienna, Va.; another daughter, Jane Hershberg of Jerusalem; five grandsons; and many nieces and nephews.