Dr. T. Edgie Russell Jr., 86, delivered thousands of babies in Baltimore area

August 15, 2004|By Alec MacGillis | Alec MacGillis,SUN STAFF

T. Edgie Russell Jr., an obstetrician-gynecologist who delivered more than 14,000 babies in the Baltimore area over 51 years, died of prostate cancer Tuesday at the Bonnie Blink Masonic Home in Hunt Valley. The Towson resident was 86.

Dr. Russell, who grew up in Frederick, went into medicine against the advice of his father, a highway contractor who hoped his son would become an engineer. After enrolling at the University of Maryland at age 16, Dr. Russell graduated from the university's medical school at 23.

He chose obstetrics because it was "one of the most joyous medical practices," said his son T. Edgie Russell III of Glyndon. "He really enjoyed bringing new children into the world. It's an occasion when everybody's happy."

After internships and residencies at the former City Hospital, Bon Secours Hospital, and the former Hospital for Women of Maryland, Dr. Russell opened a private practice that he operated until his retirement in 1996. His main office was in Charles Village, but he also practiced in Essex and Pikesville, and he was one of the first obstetricians to have an office in Carroll County, in the 1950s.

Among many professional memberships, Dr. Russell was a founding fellow of the Douglas Ob-Gyn Society and of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology. He would have practiced even longer, his son said, if his health had permitted.

Even as he neared retirement, Dr. Russell strove to educate himself about advances in the field, said a colleague, Dr. Francis C. Grumbine of Greater Baltimore Medical Center. "Even though he'd gotten older, he kept up with the new procedures as they came along and didn't hesitate to apply them. He was just a really good guy and tried to do the best for his patients."

Dr. David McCarus, who worked with Dr. Russell for 20 years at GBMC, said he was "like an icon" to area obstetricians. "He had more experience and more anecdotal stories of success and clinical pearls of wisdom ... and he loved to share those pearls and train and mentor," he said.

Over the course of his long career, Dr. Russell delivered as many as three generations in the same family, most of them at the GBMC, his son said. But, committed to protecting the privacy of his patients, his father took care not to talk about them, even with his own family.

"I would find out later that some of my best friends were patients of his, but I would find out from them - and they were shocked to find out I didn't know," his son said. "To him, it was a private matter."

Dr. Russell was equally committed to his family, his son said, and was proud that his three children grew up to be successful lawyers. "He always gave his family priority," his son said. "He had a wonderful philosophy: Give all the love to a child you can, the best education you can afford, and then say, `Now you're well-prepared for life on your own.'"

Dr. Russell married Dorothy Irene Baier in 1940 and, after a divorce, married Donna Wilkinson in 1976.

An avid golfer, Dr. Russell won several tournaments at the Baltimore Country Club, including one father-son event. He was a lifelong fan of University of Maryland sports teams, and of the Colts before their departure to Indianapolis.

A memorial service was held yesterday at Towson United Methodist Church.

In addition to his son and wife, he is survived by another son, John Edgie Russell of Frederick; a daughter, Susan W. Russell of Phoenix; a brother, Donald Russell of Philadelphia; a stepson, Jeff Wilkinson of Towson; a stepdaughter, Laura Schroeder of Mayfield, Pa.; and several grandchildren and step-grandchildren.

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