Dr. Ronald L. Gutberlet, a retired pediatrician who was a specialist in the care of premature infants, died of metastatic bladder cancer Wednesday at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore. The Cockeysville resident was 78.
Born in Baltimore, he attended the Cathedral School and was a 1952 Loyola High School graduate. He earned a degree at Washington and Lee University and received his medical degree from the University of Maryland School of Medicine in 1961.
Dr. Gutberlet completed his residency at the University of Maryland and spent time as a young physician at Mercy Medical Center in downtown Baltimore, where he later returned. He did a fellowship in neonatology at Vanderbilt University and served in the Army in Japan from 1964 to 1966.
He joined the faculty of the University of Maryland School of Medicine in 1967 and was its neonatology director for 14 years. Dr. Gutberlet was Mercy's Department of Pediatrics chair from 1984 to 2011, when he retired. During that time, he retained his teaching affiliation at the University of Maryland.
"Ron did not just serve two masters, he was a leader at both institutions. He personified the educational affiliation between University and Mercy," said Dr. Scott A. Spier, Mercy's chief medical officer, who lives in Towson.
At the University of Maryland, he was also interim chair of pediatrics from 1997 to 1999 and interim director of neonatology from 2007 to 2008. According to a biography, Dr. Gutberlet published more than 60 scientific chapters and articles.
"He was especially known for his virtues and values," Dr. Spier said. "He was compassionate, an excellent physician and committed to our mission at Mercy. He taught clinical pediatrics and neonatology and inspired countless students to go into that field. He was also a mentor to Maryland's pediatricians."
When he retired last year, the Sisters of Mercy and the Board of Trustees of Mercy Health Services renamed the Department of Pediatrics in his honor.
Friends said he was a colorful presence in the pediatrics department. He wore bright ties, often in a Walt Disney, sports or holiday theme. He also had a collection of eye-catching watches and bouncy balls. He once appeared in costume at a Mercy gala dressed as the newest building.
For many years, he was Boy Scout master of Cockeysville's Troop 880.
"He was a die-hard supporter of local sports teams and took that competitive spirit to game tables, where he loved to play bridge and Trivial Pursuit," said his son, Ken Gutberlet of Baltimore.
He also drove to work in a yellow Dodge Viper. "He told people he had to drive it now because it was low to the ground and he might have a short orthopedic window of opportunity," said another son, Ron Gutberlet of Salisbury.
Dr. Gutberlet received the Cobey Award from the Sudden Infant Death Syndrome Institute in 1989 and the 1998 Distinguished Maryland Health Professional Award from the March of Dimes, among other honors.
A Mass of Christian burial will be held at 10 a.m. Monday at St. Joseph's Roman Catholic Church, 101 Church Lane, Cockeysville, where he was a member.
In addition to his two sons, survivors include his wife of 47 years, the former Shirley Denbroeder; another son, Mark Gutberlet of Baltimore; three brothers, Terrance A. Gutberlet of Erie, Pa., Matthew J. Gutberlet of Baldwin and J. Paul Klein of Cockeysville; three sisters, Maria A. Baldwin of Baltimore, Charlie G. Caulk of Sarasota, Fla., and Patricia G. Thomas of Baltimore; and three grandchildren.