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Dr. Alice Heisler Hissey, behavioral pediatrics clinic director

Dr. Alice Heisler Hissey, medical director of the University of Maryland Medical Center's Behavioral Pediatrics Clinic who also was a consultant to city public schools, died Oct. 18 of pancreatic cancer at her Columbia home.

The former Catonsville and Laurel resident was 75.

"When I arrived here six years ago, Alice befriended me and took the time and effort to come by my office and talk about the glorious history of this department," said Dr. Steve J. Czinn, professor and chair of the department of pediatrics at the University of Maryland School of Medicine where he is also physician-in-chief.

"What Alice did for me was give me honest advice and counsel, and she continued to direct the residency pediatric behavioral program ... until she retired," he said.

"As a person, it was clear that the children came first, and everything revolved around them. She wanted young physicians to be sensitive to the issues that impacted children," said Dr. Czinn. "There was no one more kind or dedicated that I've known on this planet."

The daughter of farmers — her father was also lawyer — Alice Baskerville Heisler was born in Takoma Park and raised in Boyds.

After graduating in 1955 from Richard Montgomery High School, she earned a bachelor's degree in 1959 in English from the University of Maryland, College Park.

She earned her medical degree from the University of Maryland School of Medicine in 1963 with a specialty in pediatrics, and completed an internship and residency at what is now the University of Maryland Medical Center.

She also spent a year at Rhode Island Hospital in Providence, where she was a resident fellow in cytogenetics and genetics training under Dr. Paul La Marche, now a Maine pediatrician. In 1967, she returned to the University of Maryland, where she spent the remainder of her career, retiring in 2002.

Dr. Hissey — who used the name Dr. Alice Heisler professionally — was appointed assistant professor of pediatrics in 1977 and was medical director of the Behavioral Pediatrics Center from 1982 until her retirement.

At the University of Maryland Medical Center, she also supervised medical students and residents in behavioral pediatrics throughout her tenure.

In her role as a clinician at the University of Maryland, she evaluated children for behavioral conditions, and treated Baltimore public school students and parents for more than 20 years.

Her work also took her to a number of city schools, where she was a consultant and worked with teachers and administrators in improving the education of children with developmental and behavioral problems.

In 2007, Dr. Hissey returned as a part-time consultant to the Division of Behavioral and Developmental Pediatrics and continued working until she was diagnosed with the pancreatic cancer that took her life.

"I did my fellowship at Maryland right after she joined the faculty at Maryland and later I was division head and she worked for me from 2000 to 2008," said Dr. Linda S. Grossman, a behavioral pediatrician who is chief of the Baltimore County Bureau of Clinical Services.

"She was probably the most caring and kindest person I've ever known," said Dr. Grossman. "She was also an incredible optimist and believed that things could be made better for kids and their families."

She said Dr. Hissey had tremendous patience.

"She was patient and understanding, and families felt she knew what they were struggling with," said Dr. Grossman.

"Alice was religious but didn't wear it on her sleeve. She had a strong sense of ethics and believed that everyone deserved to be treated with decency," she said. "She worked well with people, and did it without any splash and wanted no recognition."

"Alice's death is a tremendous loss for our department, and because of her knowledge and dedication, it will be difficult to replace her," said Dr. Czinn. "For us and the residency training program, she was and always will be a very special person. I miss her. Everybody misses her."

Dr. Hissey was a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics, where she had served on the Maryland chapter of its Emotional Health Committee, and was a member of the Bradley Pediatrics Society. From 2000 to 2008, she was a member of the University of Maryland Medical Alumni Board.

Dr. Hissey was a longtime volunteer at the Joseph Richey Hospice and was active in humanitarian efforts organized by Oaklands Presbyterian Church in Laurel, where she had been an active member for many years.

"She had been one of our very early volunteer doctors," said Charlotte Hawtin, executive director of Joseph Richey Hospice and Dr. Bob's Place.

"Alice was one of our faithful volunteers for many years," said Dr. John W. Payne, a retired Baltimore ophthalmologist who is the hospice's medical director.

"Our volunteer doctors take one day a month to be on call, and in the middle of her busy practice, she was willing to donate one day a month," said Dr. Payne. "She felt so strongly about the mission of the hospice that she became a constant presence. She was someone you could really depend on."

A resident of Columbia since 2007, Dr. Hissey was an avid bridge player.

Her husband of 18 years, William David Hissey, her high school sweetheart who was a senior engineering specialist at the National Security Agency, died in 2005. An earlier 16-year marriage to Dr. Michael Hayes, a Baltimore physician, ended in divorce in 1981.

A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. Nov. 10 at her church, 14301 Laurel-Bowie Road, Laurel.

Dr. Hissey is survived by two sons, Michael S. Hayes of Los Angeles and Daniel G. Hayes of Sterling, Va.; a daughter, Sharon A. Hayes of Brooklyn, N.Y.; a stepson, Rion Hissey of Johnson City, Tenn.; a stepdaughter, Bonnie Hissey of Denver; two sisters, Cynthia Meininger of Columbia and Betty Reed of Dallas; and four grandchildren.

fred.rasmussen@baltsun.com

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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