Dr. William P. Horton, 81, orthopedic surgeon

November 21, 2003|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

Dr. William Preisz Horton, an orthopedic surgeon who was a co-founder of Orthopaedic Associates in Towson and an early student of joint replacement surgery, died of chronic anemia Wednesday at his home in the Murray Hill section of Baltimore County. He was 81.

Dr. Horton was born in Big Bend, Ore., the son of a pharmacist, and raised in Portland, Ore. He earned his bachelor's degree in science in 1943 from Reed College there.

During World War II, he joined the Navy and attended the V-12 program - which provided accelerated officer training - at the University of Oregon Medical School, earning his medical degree in 1946.

He came to Baltimore that year after being selected for an 18-month internship at Union Memorial Hospital. While working there, he met his future wife, the former Eleanor Bessellieu, a registered nurse.

"We met over a bed at Union Memorial, and I fell in love with him the minute I laid eyes on him. We married in 1947," Mrs. Horton said. "He loved two things: people and medicine."

Dr. Horton completed an orthopedic residency in two years at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda before returning in 1949 as a surgical resident at Union Memorial. In 1953, he completed an orthopedic residency at Johns Hopkins Hospital.

In 1954, Dr. Horton established an orthopedic practice with Dr. Raymond Lenhard and Dr. H. Alvan Jones at 1217 St. Paul St., where they remained until moving in 1992 to Towson.

In the 1960s, Dr. Horton traveled to England to study with Sir John Charnley, a noted orthopedic surgeon and bioengineer, who developed hip replacement surgery. His work, which also led to knee and shoulder replacement surgery, has been hailed as among the "greatest triumphs of 20th-century surgery."

Dr. Horton later specialized in total joint replacements and spine evaluations, and was also an instructor at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. He established and operated an orthopedic clinic for children in Bel Air for many years.

"He was an early advocate and really helped introduce half-knee and total joint replacement surgery to Baltimore," said Dr. David F. Dalury, president of Orthopaedic Associates.

Dr. John J. Fahey, who retired in 1999 from Orthopaedic Associates, recalled Dr. Horton's low-key and understanding demeanor: "He would sit and listen to a patient. He was very conservative when it came to surgery. Only after all other methods of treatment had failed, and only then, would he advise surgery."

"He was a gentleman, very quiet and very stable. He was also hardworking, with his day beginning at 7 a.m. and often ending at 11 p.m., when he was still making patient notes," said Dr. Allan R. McClary, a Baltimore psychiatrist who met Dr. Horton when the two were in medical school 60 years ago.

Dr. Horton retired in 1993.

He and his wife were avid scuba divers, and in the early 1960s enjoyed diving on Civil War-era blockade runners.

He was a communicant of the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer, 5603 N. Charles St., where a memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Sunday.

In addition to his wife, Dr. Horton is survived by a son, William P. Horton Jr. of Tampa, Fla.; a daughter, Cassandra Bittner of Hillendale; a sister, Jean H. Brown of Grants Pass, Ore.; and four grandchildren.

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