Dr. James Pershing Isaacs, a surgeon and emergency medical systems expert who established and later served as director of the pediatric emergency department at the Johns Hopkins Hospital Children's Center, died of Alzheimer's disease Monday at Coastal Hospice at the Lake in Salisbury. The former Cockeysville resident was 85.
Dr. Isaacs, who was born and raised in Struthers, Ohio, left Ohio University in 1942 to enlist in the Navy, serving as a hospital corpsman in the South Pacific.
After the war, he returned to Ohio University and earned a bachelor's degree in 1946. He then came to Baltimore, where he earned his medical degree from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in 1949.
Dr. Isaacs was the William Steward Halsted Fellow in Surgery at Hopkins. He completed an assistant residency in anesthesiology at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, where he led post-operative pain studies and cardiopulmonary physiological studies during ether anesthesia.
He also completed studies at the Harvard School of Public Health before returning to Hopkins in 1953 and completing his surgical residency with the famed Dr. Alfred Blalock.
Dr. Isaacs later was assistant professor of surgery and anesthesiology and emergency medicine at the medical school.
He worked with Dr. R Adams Cowley in establishing Maryland Shock Trauma Center at what is now the University of Maryland Medical Center.
With Dr. J. Alex Haller, he was a founder of the pediatric emergency department at Hopkins Hospital, and served as its director from 1972 to 1976.
"Jimmy Isaacs was an outstanding surgeon and a surgical visionary. He was 25 years ahead of his time," said Dr. Haller, a retired pediatric surgeon at the Johns Hopkins Children's Center. "He was always receptive to new ideas, and had a great interest in how an individual patient's cells responded to injury."
"Dr. Isaacs was an early innovator in pediatric emergency medicine and an excellent teacher of pediatricians in the emergency department," said Dr. George J. Dover, director of the Johns Hopkins Children's Center.
Dr. Isaacs was the author of 60 studies published in scientific and medical journals. He was also co-author with John C. Lamb of Complementarily in Biology: Quantization of Molecular Motions.
"Jimmy always seemed to have a flight of ideas and was focused and knew how to get answers. He was intense but never tense and always very interesting to be around," Dr. Haller said.
After moving to the Eastern Shore in 1980, Dr. Isaacs worked in the emergency room of Peninsula General Hospital in Salisbury, and trained emergency medical technicians, including firefighters and state troopers. He retired in 1989.
Dr. Isaacs had been a communicant of Old Trinity Episcopal Church and St. Alban Episcopal Church.
He was an accomplished orator and poet who delivered inspiring sermons, educational presentations and college commencement addresses, family members said.
"His poetry often focused on the simple joys of life, family love, while his public addresses were intensely personal declarations of the need to include God's work in one's daily life and vocation," said a son, Dr. Robert D. Isaacs of Monkton.
A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Nov. 20 at St. Alban Episcopal Church in Salisbury.
In addition to his son, Dr. Isaacs is survived by his wife of 62 years, the former Arlene Wolfgang; three other sons, Dr. James W. Isaacs of Salisbury, Dr. John T. Isaacs of Phoenix in Baltimore County, and Dr. William B. Isaacs of Butler; 12 grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.