Dr. John S. 'Jack' Harshey, Carroll County internist, dies

A longtime Westminster resident, Dr. Harshey owned a gold and green 1929 Packard touring car.

Dr. John S. "Jack" Harshey, a retired Carroll County internist who enjoyed driving his vintage Packard touring car, died April 6 of cancer at Carroll Hospice's Dove House in Westminster. He was 86.

"He was wonderful and a very good doctor, and the patients all loved him," said Dr. Vincent J. Fiocco Jr., a Westminster internist who had been Dr. Harshey's partner for 20 years. "He was a very calm person who had a special interest in cardiology."

"Jack has done a lot for this community for a lot of years," said Donald J. Hobart of Westminster, a retired anatomist who taught at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and its dental school.

"I had been his patient for many, many years and I'd trust him with my life," said Dr. Hobart. "He was probably the most caring physician I have ever run across. He was extremely thorough, and top-notch. When I had a couple of serious issues, he'd come to the house and check me out."

The son of Lloyd C. Harshey Sr., a telephone company worker, and Florence N. Harshey, a homemaker, John Simpson Harshey was born and raised in Jeannette, Pa., where he graduated in 1948 from Jeannette High School.

He earned a bachelor'ss degree in 1952 from Catawba College in Salisbury, N.C., and served in the Army during the Korean War, working a laboratory worker.

After being discharged, he earned a degree in 1958 from the University of Maryland School of Medicine.

He served an internship and a residency in internal medicine at the Youngstown Hospital Association in Youngstown, Ohio, and the last year of his residency was at the Cleveland Clinic.

Dr. Harshey met his future wife, the former Maryland "Maryl" Luft, who was a registered nurse at the University of Maryland, during his medical school days. The couple married in 1958.

"I know it sounds strange, but it was the Baltimore Colts that brought us to Westminster," said Mrs. Harshey. "We both had gone to school in Maryland and we were both Baltimore Colts fans. So when he finished his residency at the Cleveland Clinic, we moved right to Westminster because the Colts practiced there."

In 1962, Dr. Harshey opened a general medical practice on Anchor Street in Westminster. In addition to his practice, he was also chief of staff and medicine at what is now Carroll Hospital Center.

"The hospital opened in 1961, and Jack was the first internist in Carroll County," said Mrs. Harshey, who later returned to school and became an interior decorator.

Dr. Hobart recalled the time Dr. Harshey gave him a test to check for heart disease during a physical examination.

"If there is a certain level of protein in the urine, it could be an indicator of heart trouble," said Dr. Hobart. "In those days, I was running, and when you exercise, protein is released into the bloodstream. I hadn't told Jack I had been running, and when he came back with the results, he was white as a ghost. He made me come back the next day to take the test again — and told me not to run this time."

"He was one of a kind. He was so compassionate to his patients and their families. He'd cry with them, and he went way beyond his professional duties," said Shirley A. Wrightson, a retired Carroll County public schools educator who lives in Westminster. "He was an expert at what he did and was not just only a doctor but a friend to the whole family."

Dr. Harshey retired in 1990.

"When my mom had a stroke, I called Dr. Harshey. He told me that he was on his way to Virginia," said Ms. Wrightson. "Even though he had sold his practice by that time, he called for the next four days. I was holding my mom when he called, and the nurse told him, 'Dr. Harshey, she just died.'"

A longtime Westminster resident, Dr. Harshey owned a gold and green 1929 Packard touring car.

"He loved driving it, and we went to all of the shows," said Mrs. Harshey. "We also enjoyed camping and camped with our children in most every state."

Dr. Harshey also enjoyed hunting, fishing and nature photography.

"We had a 'turkey hunting' group, and we'd meet twice a year. We rented a cabin for three or four days at New Germany State Park. We'd hunt during the day and play poker at night — and there was always a bottle of Wild Turkey on the table," Dr. Hobart said with a laugh.

"He was a regular Mr. Fix-It, and he liked working outside in the yard," his wife said, who added that her husband liked playing tennis and dancing. He also was an HO-gauge model railroader.

Dr. Harshey was a communicant of Ascension Episcopal Church, 23 N. Court St., Westminster, where a memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday.

In addition to his wife, Dr. Harshey is survived by two sons, Craig P. Harshey of Germantown and Keith R. Harshey of Pennsylvania; two daughters, Lisa A. Kirschner of Finksburg and Anne R. Palmer of Herndon, Va.; a sister, Sally Franke of Boynton Beach, Fla; and eight grandchildren.

frasmussen@baltsun.com

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