Dr. Dragan V. Jezic, a retired radiologist who was the former chairman of radiology at Greater Baltimore Medical Center for more than two decades, died Feb. 19 of ocular melanoma at his Silver Spring home.
The former longtime Lutherville resident was 86.
"We worked together since 1969," said Dr. Roger C. Naraval, a radiologist who retired from GBMC in 1998.
"We were the five original members of our group, and from Day One we became the best of friends, and he was one of the best friends I ever had," he said.
Dragan Vladimir Jezic was born in Zagreb, in what is now the Republic of Croatia. He was the son of Vladimir Jezic, a judge, and Olga Jezic, a seamstress.
After graduating in 1956 from the University of Zagreb School of Medicine, he fled to Belgium from then-Yugoslavia, which had been taken over in 1946 by the communists.
"He had left illegally with fake papers and passport, and became an illegal refugee in Belgium," said his son, Andrew V. Jezic of Silver Spring.
He continued his medical studies in Antwerp for a year and then traveled to the Belgian Congo, where he practiced family medicine with a cousin, a fellow refugee from Yugoslavia.
"His three years in the Congo were some of the most enjoyable of his life, where he practiced medicine for the Belgian colonists and the native Congolese," his son said.
Dr. Jezic returned to Europe shortly before the Congo gained its independence in 1960, and worked at several U.S. Army hospitals in Germany.
In 1962, he followed two of his medical school classmates to Boston and began internships at hospitals associated with Harvard Medical School, and later at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York City.
He completed a residency in radiology at what is now the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.
Dr. Jezic began working as a radiologist at GBMC in 1968.
In 1982, Dr. Jezic was named the head of radiology at the hospital.
"He was a great organizer, and we organized the department as well as we could with what we had. He was a straight shooter, good leader, and would listen to all reasonable suggestions," Dr. Naraval said.
During Dr. Jezic's tenure as chairman, he brought stability to the department and led it through a period of steady growth, which made it one of the leading radiology units in the Baltimore area.
"The department became what it is because of all of his hard work. He did everything he could to improve it, and when we left, we left it in the good hands of the people who followed us," Dr. Naraval said.
He described Dr. Jezic as a "very friendly man who had lots of friends."
"He always talked about coming to the States and what he had been able to achieve here, and that he couldn't have done that back home," he said.
Dr. Jezic retired from the practice of medicine in 1993 but continued as chairman of a fund for the education of young radiological technicians. He also was active in causes and organizations that supported Croatia.
Since 1996, he had lived in Silver Spring. He enjoyed traveling, but his "main hobby was spending 10 hours a day poring over financial publications. He loved the stock market," his son said.
Dr. Jezic was a communicant of St. Peter's Roman Catholic Church, 2900 Olney-Sandy Spring Road, Olney, where a Mass of Christian burial will be offered at 11 a.m. March 18.
In addition to his son, he is survived by his wife of 21 years, Dr. Vesna Tomazic-Jezic, a retired U.S. Food and Drug Administration biologist; two daughters, Tamara Jezic of Fredericksburg, Va., and Laura Glassow of Charlottesville, Va.; a stepdaughter, Vlatka Tomazic of Olney; and eight grandchildren.
His wife of many years, the former Diane Peacock, a pianist, author and member of the music department at Towson University, died in 1989.