William F. Bruther, whose career as an Annapolis ophthalmologist spanned nearly 40 years and included having served as chief of ophthalmology at Anne Arundel Medical Center, died Thursday of liver failure at the medical center. He was 70.
Dr. Bruther was born in Trenton, N.J., and raised in Annapolis, where his father was chief of personnel at the Naval Academy and his mother was a registered nurse.
After graduating from St. Mary's High School in Annapolis in 1957, he entered Mount St. Mary's University in Emmitsburg, where he earned a bachelor's degree in 1961 in biology.
He was a 1967 graduate of the University of Maryland School of Medicine and completed an ophthalmology internship at South Baltimore General Hospital and a residency at University Hospital.
From 1965 to 1970, he served as an assistant medical officer in the Navy aboard the destroyer tender USS Shenandoah, where he attained the rank of lieutenant commander.
Dr. Bruther established his practice in an office on State Circle in Annapolis, and later moved to the Wayson Pavilion at Anne Arundel Medical Center, where he was working at the time of his death.
He was chief of ophthalmology at the medical center from 1979 to 1981, and in addition to maintaining a private practice, he had been involved with various matters related to doctors as well as patients.
Since 1980, he had been an associate examiner for the American Board of Ophthalmology and had been a member since 1994 of the legislative leadership group of the Medical and Chirurgical Faculty of Maryland, which presented Dr. Bruther with its Patient Advocate Award in 1999.
In 2004, Dr. Bruther was appointed by the Maryland state legislature to the board of CareFirst, formerly Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Maryland.
"He was a great man and a good-natured Irish Catholic. We both went to the same high school even though he's eight years older than me, and he always helped me get elected ever since I started in politics," Maryland House Speaker Michael E. Busch said Monday.
"Bill was the doctor everyone knew ,and he was a community activist who wanted to make the community a better place. He was a leader. He was respected," Mr. Busch said.
"When we reconstituted Blue Cross and Blue Shield, he was my choice for the board," he said. "If there was ever a guy who reflected the goodness of Annapolis, it was Bill. He was a true advocate and wanted the best way to serve health care to patients."
Mr. Busch said his longtime friend cared about three things in life: "He loved politics, medicine and lacrosse. I think you better put medicine first," he said, with a laugh.
"Bill brought the best out in people and they loved being around him. He'll be sorely missed," Mr. Busch said.
From 1995 until 2008, Dr. Bruther served on the board of the Delmarva Foundation for Medical Care Inc., an organization that monitors and works to improve health care for Marylanders.
"Bill was a very public-spirited person who had been a longtime member of the organization. He was a person who always looked at the ethical aspects of things," said Dr. Christian E. Jensen, CEO and president of the Delmarva Foundation.
"He was the person who always identified issues and key ethical concerns and he was the person who voiced them whether they were unpopular or contrarian," Dr. Jensen said. "He was affable and kindly, but when it came to issues that he felt strongly about, then he was relatively inflexible."
Dr. Jensen said that Dr. Bruther wasn't a "voice of convenience but for doing the right thing."
"He was never strident, self-righteous or holier-than-thou," Dr. Jensen said. "And I never saw any sign of greed or self-aggrandizement in him."
Dr. Joseph D. Moser is senior vice president for medical affairs at Anne Arundel Medical Center.
"I've known Bill for 35 years, and he was a great doc and a fabulous human being who was held in high respect among his colleagues. He was a strong advocate for both doctors and patients," Dr. Moser said. "He was very personable, a good surgeon, and always had time for you."
Dr. Maria C. Scott, an ophthalmologist, described Dr. Bruther as a "gentleman's gentleman."
"He was a most gracious and kind man," she said. "He loved ophthalmology, his patients and discussing his cases."
She also said that he enjoyed his family.
"He always mentioned his wife, children and grandchildren," she said.
Dr. Bruther was an avid angler and hunter. He also was an accomplished decoy carver and enjoyed collecting waterfowl and bird decoys.
"He also liked renting a house on Nantucket and going up there and painting for a few weeks," Dr. Scott said.
Dr. Bruther was a charter member of Ducks Unlimited of Annapolis and a member of the Safari Club of Annapolis and the Terrapin Club.
A memorial service will be held at 4:30 p.m. June 3 at Quiet Waters Park, 600 Quiet Waters Park Road, Annapolis.
Surviving are his wife of 48 years, Sandra Dorr; a son, R. Scott Bruther of Odenton; a daughter, Susan Bruther Raum of Owings Mills; a brother, T. Richard Bruther of Annapolis; a sister, Mary Anne Beasten of Birdsboro, Pa.; and four grandchildren.