James B. Smith

[Age 91] World War II veteran became "a true country doctor" in Anne Arundel County. He also loved sailing and golf.

He "rarely sent bills, convinced that his patients knew what they owed and would pay ... ," his wife says.

May 04, 2007|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,sun reporter

Dr. James Brady Smith, a retired physician who enjoyed sailing and golfing, died of heart failure Sunday at his Severna Park home. He was 91.

Known as Brady, Dr. Smith was born in Baltimore, the son of a physician. He was raised in an apartment over his father's Light Street office and at the family's summer home in Riviera Beach. He was a great-nephew of Emerson C. Harrington, who served as Maryland governor from 1916 to 1920.

He was a 1932 graduate of City College, and earned his undergraduate degree four years later from the University of Maryland, where he played football and competed in wrestling. In 1940, he earned his medical degree from the UM School of Medicine.

During World War II, he enlisted in the Navy and served as chief medical officer aboard the attack transport USS Eastland in the Pacific.

On his return to Anne Arundel County, Dr. Smith opened a family practice on Fort Smallwood Road in Riviera Beach, where he remained until retiring in 1987.

"He was known throughout the area for his hundreds of home deliveries of babies, sparing those who could not afford hospital maternity bills," said his high school sweetheart and wife of 57 years, the former Kitty Pollard.

"He also rarely sent bills, convinced that his patients knew what they owed and would pay when convenient," said Mrs. Smith, a retired social worker. "He was like his father, a true country doctor."

"He had a big following in the Severna Park area," said Dr. Hillary T. O'Herlihy, a Severna Park cardiologist and friend of 30 years who described him as being "very straight and honest. He told it like it was."

"However, he also had a great deal of compassion. He was a very competent physician who knew his limitations, and knew when it was time to refer a patient to someone else," Dr. O'Herlihy said.

"He did lots of homework and his patients never had appointments. They'd come in the morning and wait in the office. He took them on the basis of the seriousness of their medical condition. If a patient came in bleeding, for instance, then he'd see them first," said Dr. David R. Deitrick, a Severna Park dentist. "He was a very gentle man with a dry sense of humor, and if a patient couldn't pay, he never went after them."

Dr. Deitrick recalled a time when Dr. Smith interrupted a golf game to check the condition of the daughter of his golfing companion, who was getting married that day. "He went to her house, examined the bride's throat, and then wrote her a prescription for an antibiotic before returning to the golf course."

Dr. Smith had sailed competitively and was a former member of the Annapolis Yacht Club. He was a charter member of the Chartwell Golf and Country Club, and built his home near its golf course where he played daily until recently, when his health began to fail.

He enjoyed reading and was a Civil War buff.

A memorial gathering will be held at 4 p.m. May 11 at the Chartwell Club on Chartwell Drive.

Also surviving is a son, James Brady Smith Jr. of Brookeville; two daughters, Kathleen E. Briggs of Centreville and Nancy S. Barrett of Detroit; and nine grandchildren.


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