Gerald A. Whitmarsh, 72, Towson psychologist

May 09, 2004|By Reginald Fields | Reginald Fields,SUN STAFF

Dr. Gerald A. Whitmarsh, past president of the Maryland Psychological Association's board of directors whose career as a psychologist in the Towson area spanned four decades, died of respiratory failure Wednesday at the Gilchrist Center for Hospice Care. The Towson resident was 72.

Dr. Whitmarsh was working as a psychologist for the Maryland State Disability Determination Services at the time of his death. He also worked for 33 years at Sheppard and Enoch Pratt Hospital, ran a private practice in Towson for 35 years, performed consulting work, and taught at the Johns Hopkins University and University of Maryland.

"He was very passionate about his work," said Susan W. Bond of Towson, a sister.

Born in Greensboro, N.C., and raised in Hartford, Conn., Dr. Whitmarsh moved to Maryland in 1961 and started his career at the Charles County Mental Health Clinic.

His undergraduate major at Trinity College in Hartford was in French with a minor in psychology. A Trinity psychology professor inspired Dr. Whitmarsh to pursue a career in that field, recalled another sister, Shirley Caruso of Lady Lake, Fla.

After graduating from Trinity, Dr. Whitmarsh earned graduate degrees in psychology from the University of Minnesota and from Trinity College, and a doctorate in clinical psychology from the University of Connecticut.

Dr. Robert W. Gibson, who was director of the Sheppard and Enoch Pratt Hospital for 32 years, hired Dr. Whitmarsh in 1966.

"I think he was highly respected for his knowledge of research methodology and his ability to apply that to answer the kind of questions that we were interested in," Dr. Gibson said.

Dr. Gibson was so impressed with Dr. Whitmarsh's research and data-collection skills that in 1968 he created a position at the hospital for him -- director of research.

"Probably the most important thing he did was to set up a very fine system so that for every patient, detailed data was collected and part of that was then computerized," Dr. Gibson said. "So, any time we had a question about how Drug A might affect a certain type of person, he could get the answer for you by lunchtime."

"He was a genuinely loving and kind man and a wonderful brother and uncle," Ms. Bond said. "Gerry felt very strong about family. And he was very patient, and he held a great sense of humor."

Dr. Whitmarsh enjoyed being an uncle, often taking nieces and nephews on pleasure trips to Europe, New Orleans or New York City.

"He was probably the most family-oriented person I've known," Ms. Caruso said. "He always wanted to share with his family. If he would take a trip, he would take one of his nieces or nephews with him."

An avid reader, Dr. Whitmarsh once saved an article titled the "Art of Uncling."

"That was his sense of humor coming out," Ms. Bond said. "He thought the article was great."

Dr. Whitmarsh also enjoyed the theater and opera. He also was active in his church, Havenwood Presbyterian Church, 100 E. Ridgely Road, Lutherville, where a memorial service will be held at 7:30 p.m. tomorrow.

In addition to his sisters, Dr. Whitmarsh is survived by several nieces and nephews.

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