Mary S. Farber, pediatrician and longtime volunteer, 88


Dr. Mary S. Farber, a retired Baltimore pediatrician and longtime volunteer, died Monday of Alzheimer's disease at her home in the Roland Park Apartments. She was 88.

Born Mary Streeter in Baltimore, she was raised on Eutaw Place and later on St. Paul Street in a Guilford home that her father had designed.

She was a 1936 graduate of Bryn Mawr School and earned a bachelor's degree in zoology from Vassar College in 1940.

She earned her medical degree in 1943 at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and completed her internship and residency in pediatrics at Union Memorial Hospital in 1947.

"Mary was from a family of distinction in the world of medicine. She was a very sweet person who was always smiling and one of the favorite women of our medical school class," said Dr. Jacob Handelsman, a retired Baltimore surgeon.

"Everyone always felt that her temperament and pediatric specialty were very suitable, and it was a fine marriage of specialty and her love of kids," he said. "She was greatly admired and dealt with adults with the same care and concern as she did children."

"She never had a private practice but spent her career working in public clinics," said a son, Robert Ennis Farber Jr. of Arlington, Va.

From 1948 to 1956, Dr. Farber worked as a part-time pediatrician at clinics in Baltimore and Baltimore County, and was associated in 1956 and 1957 with the maternal and child hygiene clinic at the former Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health.

Dr. Farber was an instructor in pediatrics and worked in the evaluation clinic at the University of Maryland School of Medicine from 1957 to 1965. She returned to Hopkins in 1966, and spent the next six years working in its comprehensive pediatrics clinic. She worked the last four years of her career in pediatrics clinics operated by the state Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, and retired in 1976.

"I first met her when we were in the same class at Miss May's kindergarten at Memorial Episcopal Church on Bolton Hill, and then we met again in medical school when we were again in the same class," said retired Baltimore surgeon Dr. William D. Lynn. "She was a marvelous pediatrician and couldn't have been better because she was Hopkins-trained. She also attended medical school at a time when it was tough on women," he said.

While at Hopkins, she fell in love with a classmate, Dr. Robert Ennis Farber, and married him in 1947. From 1947 until 1954, the couple lived on D Street in Sparrows Point, where her husband maintained a family practice. They moved to Roland Park after he took a job with the city Health Department, and he later became city health commissioner.

The couple lived for 31 years on Woodlawn Road before moving to the Roland Park Apartments in 1983. Her husband died in 2004.

Dr. Farber had volunteered for many years with the Maryland SPCA, Meals on Wheels of Central Maryland, and the Nearly New Shop at St. David's Episcopal Church, where she was a communicant for many years.

She was an avid world traveler and enjoyed painting in watercolors and doing crossword puzzles. A student of the works of William Shakespeare, she joined with friends in establishing the Shakespeare Club, and they enjoyed reading his plays aloud.

Diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease three years ago, Dr. Farber "had been in reasonably good spirits and maintained her sense of humor despite the difficulty of remembering recent events," her son said.

A private service will be held at Canada Lake in the Adirondacks in New York, where she had spent summers since 1923.

Also surviving are another son, Allen Streeter Farber of Oneonta, N.Y.; a brother, George A. Streeter of Cleveland; and two granddaughters.

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