John Howard Yardley

John Howard Yardley (Baltimore Sun / December 13, 2011)

Dr. John Howard "Jack" Yardley, former director of pathology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, who had also been associate dean for academic affairs, died Dec. 7 of a stroke at Gilchrist Hospice Care in Towson.

The longtime Roland Park resident was 85.

"For more than 50 years, John devoted his energies to research, patient care and teaching," Dr. Edward D. Miller, dean of the medical faculty and CEO of Johns Hopkins Medicine, wrote in an email to his medical school colleagues.

"One of the founding fathers of the field of gastrointestinal pathology, he made groundbreaking observations on Whipple's disease of the gastrointestinal tract and helped define the current classification system for neoplastic dysplasia in the colon and esophagus."

The son of a Republic Steel Co. executive and a homemaker, Dr. Yardley was born in Columbia, S.C. Due to the nature of his father's work, he was raised in Greenville, N.C., Birmingham, Ala., Houston and Cleveland, where he graduated in 1944 from Western Reserve High School.

From 1944 to 1946, he served in the Navy as an electrician's mate.

He entered Birmingham-Southern College in Birmingham in 1946, from which he earned a bachelor's degree in chemistry three years later. He earned his medical degree in 1953 from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

From 1953 to 1954, he was an intern in internal medicine at Vanderbilt University Hospital, and returned to Baltimore in 1954, when he was named an assistant resident in pathology at Johns Hopkins Hospital.

He was chief resident of pathology at Hopkins from 1957 to 1958, and had served as associate pathologist from 1954 to 1955.

"There were so many facets to Jack. He was an extraordinary educator and was a leader in medical education both on the national and international level," said Dr. Ralph H. Hruban, director of the Sol Goldman Pancreatic Cancer Research Center at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

"He studied slides and took his time in making a diagnosis and often saw things others didn't. He loved the department and the university and those around him," said Dr. Hruban, who is also deputy director for programs and research in the pathology department at Hopkins. "He was an example to us all and made the department a much better place to work."

Dr. Hruban described his friend and colleague as a "Southern gentleman in the best sense of the word."

"He was soft-spoken and laid back and would put people at ease. He knew his facts and in conversation didn't try to dominate you. He'd kindly state the facts and would make substantial intellectual arguments," he said.

Dr. David Keren, who is clinical medical director of Warde Medical Laboratories in Ann Arbor, Mich., and clinical professor at the University of Michigan Medical School, was Dr. Yardley's first fellow.

"He was an incredible and amazing man. I was a resident at Hopkins from 1971 to 1975 and worked with him in many capacities during that time. Jack was always so supportive and such a unique character," said Dr. Keren.

"He had wonderful insight, a great sense of humor, compassion and was incredibly fair. And he taught us how to do these things," he said. "He also taught us how important it was to have laughter in the workplace and that we were to enjoy ourselves while doing our work."

Dr. Keren recalled his colleague as being a "patient teacher."

"Jack was so kind. His lectures were very clear. He took you through it so you understood pathology. He didn't talk at you, he gave you concepts and was always very supportive of his residents," he said.

In the 1960s, Dr. Yardley established the GI/Liver fellowship program to promote both research activities and the clinical training of talented pathologists who sought advanced training in gastrointestinal disease.