John Clausen Healy Sr., 84, doctor, World War II pilot


Dr. John Clausen Healy Sr., a well-known Arbutus physician and World War II pilot, died of heart failure Friday at his Catonsville home. He was 84.

Dr. Healy was born in Brazil, Ind., and raised in Malvern, Pa. After graduating from Malvern Preparatory School, he began pre-med studies at what is now Villanova University.

"He'd spend summers with a cousin who was a doctor in Glyndon and that impressed him and I think that's why he wanted to study medicine," said a son, Terence C. Healy of Catonsville.

He left college in 1939 when he enlisted in the Navy, where he was trained as a rescue pilot. Stationed throughout the South Pacific during World War II, Dr. Healy participated in numerous rescues.

While flying a Martin PBM flying boat between Hawaii and San Francisco on a 1942 mission, the aircraft developed engine trouble, which forced him to make an emergency landing. Despite the choppy seas off of San Francisco, he was able to land the plane without injuring its seven-man crew.

After being discharged with the rank of lieutenant in 1945, he resumed his college education at the University of Connecticut, where he earned his bachelor's degree in 1946. He earned his medical degree in 1950 from the University of Maryland School of Medicine.

While completing his residency at St. Agnes Hospital, he met Dorothy Canton, a nurse, whom he married in 1950. She died in 1993.

For 46 years until he retired in 1996, Dr. Healy practiced family medicine from an office on St. Francis Avenue in Arbutus.

"He was the most dedicated physician I've ever known. His patients were always No. 1. He was just a tip-top doctor," said Dr. John C. Norton, a retired Baltimore obstetrician and gynecologist, and longtime friend.

"Everything was for his patients, and they loved him. If they needed something, he made sure they got it. And the doctors and staff at St. Agnes were crazy about him," he said.

It wasn't uncommon for Dr. Healy to make hospital rounds at St. Agnes at 2 a.m. or 3 a.m., said Pat E. Grabowski, who is now a retired nurse and had worked at the southwest Baltimore hospital for years.

"He only had a couple of hours rest each night," Mrs. Grabowski said.

Until he retired, Dr. Healy continued to make house calls.

"On rounds - which he made seven days a week - he'd speak to patients and give orders to the staff. And if a patient couldn't get to the office, he'd go to their home after office hours, no matter how late it was, to see them," Dr. Norton said.

"My mother was sick one time and I couldn't get there because I had two children at home with the chicken pox," Mrs. Grabowski said. "He went to her home to see her. He even took in the mail and turned off the radio and left when the ambulance came. And then followed her and the ambulance to the hospital in his car."

She said Dr. Healy also was an excellent diagnostician.

"He'd find out sooner or later how to treat a medical condition. And he never gave up until he had reached the right diagnosis. He was just wonderful," she said.

Dr. Healy volunteered for more than a decade at Cardinal Gibbons High School, where he provided free physicals and medical care to students, athletes and faculty.

In recognition for his years at Gibbons, the school's football field was named the Dr. John C. Healy Stadium in 1978.

"Dr. Healy was always a consummate professional and our team physician for many years," said Philip J. Forte, Gibbons' principal. "He was also a sports booster and made a significant contribution in order for us to purchase lights for the field. He will certainly be missed."

For many years, Dr. Healy had enjoyed raising, training and riding horses with family members at Glendalough, his 6 1/2 -acre farm on South Rolling Road in Catonsville, where he had lived since 1950.

He also liked golfing and playing the organ, and was an avid reader of topics ranging from medicine to military history.

Dr. Healy was a communicant of St. Mark Roman Catholic Church, 27 Melvin Ave., Catonsville, where a Mass of Christian burial will be offered at 10 a.m. today.

Also surviving are four other sons, Kevin C. Healy of Falls Church, Va., Brian C. Healy and L. Patrick Healy, both of Ellicott City, and Colin C. Healy of Catonsville; four daughters, Kathleen D. Healy, Robin P. Healy, Deirdre L. Gibbons and Sheila Hunt, all of Catonsville; and 16 grandchildren. Another son, John C. Healy Jr., died in 2002; and a daughter, Mary Michael Healy, died in 1953.

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