Dr. James Patrick Connaughton, a psychiatrist who was the founder and first director of what became the Johns Hopkins Children and Adolescent Mental Health Center, died Sunday of pancreatic cancer at his Cloisters home in the Woodbrook neighborhood of Baltimore County. He was 80.
The son of a government worker and a shopkeeper, Dr. Connaughton was born and raised in Dublin, Ireland.
After graduating from Rockwell College, a Tipperary boarding school, he entered University College in Dublin, where he earned his medical degree in 1956.
He came to Baltimore in 1958 as a psychiatry resident at Seton Psychiatric Institute, completing his residency in 1961.
From 1961 to 1965, he was an assistant professor of psychiatry at Marquette University in Milwaukee and was senior staff psychiatrist at Milwaukee Psychiatric Hospital.
He also did consultations at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Wood, Wis. During that period, he was an adviser and was involved with the evaluation and training of the first several classes of Peace Corps volunteers.
Dr. Connaughton returned to Baltimore in 1965, where he embarked on a 31-year clinical career that was devoted to child psychiatry and pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins Hospital.
"He was dedicated to directly helping kids and their families and training a generation of child psychiatrists, pediatricians and psychologists," said a son, James L. Connaughton, who lives in Washington and is executive vice president of Constellation Energy Group.
Dr. Connaughton began his career at Hopkins as a fellow in the department of child psychiatry and department of pediatrics, and in 1967, joined the senior staff of the division of child psychiatry.
From 1967 to 1981, Dr. Connaughton directed numerous programs at Hopkins and served as a consultant to the Dundalk Mental Health Clinic, Associated Catholic Charities, the Oldfields School, the Children's Guild, the John F. Kennedy Institute, the Villa Maria Treatment Center and the Francis Scott Key Community Psychiatry Program.
Dr. Connaughton established and was first director of the Children and Adolescent Mental Health Center, whose operations he oversaw until 1993.
Dr. Joyce Harrison, who has Dr. Connaughton's former job as medical director of what is now the Children's Mental Health Clinic, completed her residency in 1992 under his tutelage.
"He deeply influenced me in my work in the community. I respected his passion and commitment to the children of East Baltimore. He gave them the best care," she said.
"He was a fiery and passionate person who was always willing to fight for the right things. He was completely committed to do every possible thing he could do for a child," said Dr. Harrison. "He never really left and continued to come around to the division. His death is a huge loss to the community."
Dr. Connaughton also worked very closely with the Baltimore city school system's division of special education, various community health programs and the East Baltimore Mental Health Center.
Sandra Keiller, the manager of the clinic, is a social worker and a psychiatric therapist.
"I first got to know him 30 years ago when I came here as a social worker," she said. "He had an amazing talent for caring for children and was a brilliant and gifted clinician.
"Jim had a gift working with kids and also those who had special needs and emotional problems. The kids and their families loved him," said Ms. Keiller. "He had a special personality and was also an outstanding teacher. I've been blessed having had the experience of working with him."
Dr. Connaughton left an indelible mark on his students.
"He was a great teacher. He showed us how to work in multiple disciplines when working with children. You worked with the child, family and school," said Dr. Maryland Pao, clinical director of the National Institutes of Mental Health in Bethesda.
"In spite of his Irish accent, he knew how to talk to children and come down to their level. They would tell him things they'd tell no one else," said Dr. Pao, who as a Hopkins resident nominated Dr. Connaughton for a Teacher of the Year Award, which he won.
"He was working with children who had hard lives, and he championed these underserved kids," she said.
Dr. Connaughton, who was board certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, was a life fellow of the American Psychiatric Association.
Dr. Connaughton was fascinated with the ever-changing face of hospital administration, which led him to earn a master's degree in the business of medicine in 2002 from the Johns Hopkins University.
Proud of his Irish ancestry, Dr. Connaughton enjoyed listening to Celtic music. He was a member of the Hibernian Club of Baltimore and the Emerald Isle Club.
Dr. Connaughton was a communicant of Immaculate Conception Roman Catholic Church, Baltimore and Ware avenues, where a Mass of Christian burial will be offered at 10 a.m. Wednesday.
Also surviving are his wife of 54 years, the former Monica T. Keaveny, whom he met in Ireland; two other sons, John P. Connaughton of Newton, Mass., and Paul V. Connaughton of Colorado Springs; two daughters, Eileen C. Hart of Ruxton and Bernadette M. Connaughton of Skillman, N.J.; a brother, Noel Connaughton of Lancaster, Pa.; a sister, Kathleen Maguire Laurence of Cork, Ireland; and 14 grandchildren.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun