William Wailes Magruder III, 82, psychiatrist and collector of art

January 18, 2004|By Sara Neufeld | Sara Neufeld,SUN STAFF

William Wailes Magruder III, a retired psychiatrist and avid art collector, died Tuesday of complications from pneumonia at Good Samaritan Hospital. He was 82.

A North Baltimore resident, Dr. Magruder was a founding member and the first president of the Print and Drawing Society of the Baltimore Museum of Art. Family and friends described him as a lifelong student with boundless curiosity, an avid gardener and traveler who took art and archaeology classes throughout his life.

"He made you want to learn new things all the time and broaden your horizons," said his wife of 58 years, Kathryn Marley Magruder.

Added his daughter, also named Kathryn Marley Magruder: "Though he was 82 and had many ailments, he always read the paper, kept up with the news, studied for his classes. There wasn't a single brain cell that wasn't functioning."

Born in Starkville, Miss., Dr. Magruder was the son of a lumberman and a teacher and the oldest of three children. Spurred by his grandmother's mental illness, he knew he wanted to be a psychiatrist by the time he entered Mississippi State College in 1938, his daughter said.

Dr. Magruder graduated and went on to Duke University Medical School, where he met his future wife through a classmate, her cousin. After obtaining his medical degree, he did his residency at Duke Hospital before serving as a psychiatrist with the U.S. Army Medical Corps, stationed in Berlin, from 1946 to 1948.

Returning to the United States, Dr. Magruder worked in North Carolina and Colorado before moving to Baltimore in 1951 to become chief resident at University of Maryland Hospital. His wife said the couple had planned to return to her native North Carolina, but after arriving in Baltimore, "we just never left. We loved it."

He worked in private practice from 1953 until his retirement in 1986. "He was just an all-around good psychiatrist and seemed to enjoy his work," said Dr. William N. Fitzpatrick, a longtime friend with whom Dr. Magruder shared an office on East Chase Street.

Dr. Magruder's daughter said he cared deeply about his patients, but "he didn't care if anybody recognized him. He was very quiet and modest in what he did." In the days since his death, she said, "we're beginning to be surprised at how many lives he touched."

He traveled around the world, from Egypt to Venezuela, and visited all 50 states, said his daughter, who lives in Isle of Palms, S.C. She explained how he came to check the 50th state off the list of places he'd visited:

"A few years ago, I started looking at the map with him and I said, `Daddy, are you sure you've been to Iowa?' He said, `I don't think we made it to Iowa.' That year for Christmas, I gave them tickets to spend Valentine's Day in Iowa. They flew into Des Moines and went to the art museum."

For decades, Dr. Magruder took an intense interest in the art world, attending tours and lectures at the Baltimore Museum of Art and offering the museum financial support as he built up his art collection, said Jay Fisher, BMA's deputy director for curatorial affairs.

Dr. Magruder helped form the Print and Drawing Society in 1968 to encourage the public's interest in the graphic arts and collecting, Mr. Fisher said. Today, the society has nearly 200 members.

"He couldn't have been a nicer person and was interested in always initiating meaningful conversations," Mr. Fisher said. "It was never just social banter. It was always perceptive and interesting."

Dr. Magruder loved music, from symphonies to jazz, and often went to concerts by the Maryland State Boychoir, which was to perform at his memorial service yesterday. He was an active member of Baltimore's Episcopal Church of the Redeemer, volunteering to collect canned goods. He returned once from a food bank in tears over the poverty he had seen, his daughter said.

He was proud that both his daughters and a granddaughter went to his alma mater, Duke. Kathryn Magruder is on the faculty of the psychiatry department at the Medical University of South Carolina. Her sister, Rachel M. Allen of Baltimore, is an art historian.

The Magruders had a cottage in Kitty Hawk, N.C., and Dr. Magruder enjoyed playing with his grandchildren at the beach and teaching his grandson to fish, his daughter Kathryn said.

In addition to his wife and two daughters, Dr. Magruder is survived by a son, William W. Magruder IV of Baltimore; three grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.

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