Dr. Frank T. Rafferty Jr., 81, visionary in child psychiatry

October 09, 2006|By Jill Rosen | Jill Rosen,sun reporter

Dr. Frank T. Rafferty Jr., a pioneer in the field of child psychiatry, died of heart failure Oct. 1 on St. Simons Island, Ga. The resident of Ruxton and Georgia was 81.

Born in Greenville, Miss., Dr. Rafferty grew up in Memphis, Tenn. He graduated from St. Mary's College in Winona, Minn., and the St. Louis University School of Medicine. He interned at St. Louis Hospital and performed his psychiatric residency and child psychiatric fellowship at the University of Colorado in Denver.

During the Korean War, Dr. Rafferty served in the Army in medical posts in Korea and was the resident psychiatrist at an evacuation hospital in Tokyo. At Tripler Army Hospital in Honolulu, he was the assistant chief of neuropsychiatry. He was discharged from the Army as a major.

After the military, he taught at the University of Utah's department of psychiatry, where he developed classification and mental health programs at the Utah State Prison and the Adolescent Treatment Center in Salt Lake City.

Dr. Rafferty continued his work with children in Maryland, where he taught at the University of Maryland, founded child psychiatry training programs and developed treatment standards for young people.

He was one of the first in his field to push the notion that the mental health disorders of children should be handled differently than adult illnesses.

"He said children can't be treated as small adults but should be treated as developing young people," said Peter Stanton, his son-in-law. "That was a new way of thinking."

Dr. David Pruitt, director of the University of Maryland Medical Center's Division of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, said his colleague "was always ahead of his time."

In Maryland, Dr. Rafferty established the adolescent unit at Crownsville State Hospital, the children's inpatient program at the Psychiatric Institute of the University of Maryland, and the children and adolescent service at the Children's Mental Health Center in Baltimore.

In 1968-1969, he was a National Institute of Mental Health distinguished fellow.

While maintaining a practice in psychotherapy, Dr. Rafferty performed research in well-baby clinics, adolescent treatment centers, Head Start programs and the public schools.

"One of his real visions was reaching out to children in schools and in the community," Dr. Pruitt said. "He put the programs where kids were, so children and their families had much better access to medical treatment."

Dr. Rafferty served as chairman of the National Consortium of Child Mental Health Services. He was chairman of the American Psychiatric Association's Council on Children, Adolescents and their Families, and did consulting work for that association's Council on Economic Affairs.

Dr. Rafferty enjoyed sailing as well as collecting souvenirs from his travels that he displayed in his home. However, his daughter, Margaret Stanton of Baltimore, said that with her father, work always came first.

"He was extremely dedicated to his work," she said. "Ninety-nine percent of his life was his work."

She said her father had an album in which he saved letters from children he treated.

At Dr. Rafferty's request, there will be no funeral.

In addition to his daughter, he is survived by two sons, F. Thomas Rafferty III and Gerald Rafferty, both of Baltimore; four other daughters, Christine Connell and Ginger Segala, both of Baltimore, Elizabeth Bostwick of Virginia and Anne Louise Chick of Geneva; and 15 grandchildren. His marriage to Sally Rafferty of Ruxton ended in divorce.jill.rosen@baltsun.com

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