Dr. Gardner Watkins Smith

[ Age 75 ]Surgeon held posts at Johns Hopkins Hospital and Hopkins Bayview Medical Center.

October 12, 2006|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,sun reporter

Dr. Gardner Watkins Smith, a retired surgeon who had held posts at Johns Hopkins Hospital and Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, died of lung cancer Oct. 5 at his home in Deer Isle, Maine. The former Ruxton resident was 75.

Dr. Smith was born and raised in Boston. His father, Dr. George Van Siclen Smith, was professor of gynecology at Harvard Medical School, and his mother, Dr. Olive Watkins Smith, was a biochemist.

He was a 1949 graduate of Phillips Academy Andover and earned a bachelor's degree from Princeton University in 1953. He graduated from Harvard Medical School in 1956 and completed his surgical residency at Hopkins in 1959.

He also completed a residency in cardiovascular and thoracic surgery at the University of Virginia Hospital in Charlottesville, and was an associate professor of medicine at the University of Virginia School of Medicine and a surgeon at the University of Virginia Hospital.

Dr. Smith left Charlottesville in 1970 when he was appointed professor of surgery at the Hopkins medical school, and also held a similar position at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.

From 1970 to 1979, Dr. Smith was chief of surgery at the old Baltimore City Hospitals and assisted in the transition of the municipally owned hospital to Hopkins in 1984.

"He was an invaluable ally for me, particularly in my early days as president of Johns Hopkins Bayview," said Ronald R. Peterson, now president of the Johns Hopkins Hospital and Health System.

"He provided great insight regarding the institution and helped me immensely as I attempted to navigate the challenges of transitioning Bayview from the public to the private sector," Mr. Peterson said.

Dr. Smith was deputy director of surgery at Hopkins from 1979 to 1985, when he returned to Bayview. For 11 years, until retiring in 1996, he was chairman of surgical sciences.

In the early 1970s, Dr. Smith participated in the Vietnam Medical School Project, traveling to Saigon to help train Vietnamese physicians.

"Gardner was one of the greats of our institution. He was as wonderful, responsive and caring a surgeon as I've ever known," said Dr. John R. Burton, former director of the division of geriatric medicine and gerontology at the Hopkins School of Medicine.

"He was the kind of man who went out of his way to help other folks," Dr. Burton said.

Dr. Smith and his wife of 48 years, the former Susan Elizabeth Whiteford, moved to the little village of Sunshine on Deer Isle after he retired.

He was a member and former board chairman of Blue Hill Memorial Hospital in Maine, and its foundation.

"What a kind and gentle man he was and very brave when it came to facing issues," said Timothy F. Garrity, president and CEO of the Blue Hill hospital, who shared Dr. Smith's passion for kayaking. "Sometimes we'd hold a mini-board meeting in our kayaks, and they were some of the best times we had together."

Dr. Smith had a private pilot's license and liked flying to medical meetings. He also was an active member of the Maine Island Trail Association.

An active naval reservist for 39 years, he retired with the rank of captain in 1991. He had been a member of the Hamilton Street Club in Baltimore and was a former communicant of the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd in Ruxton.

A memorial gathering for Dr. Smith will be held at 2 p.m. Nov. 11 at Goose Cove Lodge on Deer Isle.

Also surviving are a son, George Van Siclen Smith II of Baltimore; two daughters, Elizabeth Whiteford Smith of San Antonio and R. Tremain Smith of Philadelphia; a sister, Nancy Smith Hudnut of Glens Falls, N.Y.; and six grandchildren.

fred.rasmussen@baltsun.com

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