Dr. Walter E. Dandy Jr., a retired Baltimore anesthesiologist who helped establish the intensive care unit at Union Memorial Hospital and later served as its medical director, died July 11 of pneumonia at the Broadmead retirement community in Cockeysville. He was 87.
"Walter was a very capable and dedicated doctor who was a respected leader in the field of anesthesiology and intensive care," said Dr. William F. Fritz, a retired Baltimore internist and longtime friend.
"And when he was in the intensive care unit, he was all business, and he really knew his stuff," said Dr. Fritz. "The house staff respected him, and he was a hard worker. He was hands-on and always there."
Born into a medical family, Walter Edward Dandy Jr. was raised on Juniper Road in Guilford.
He was the son of Dr. Walter E. Dandy Sr., the world-renowned Johns Hopkins Hospital neurosurgeon whose patients included George Gershwin, Leon Trotsky, Margaret Mitchell and Thomas Wolfe, and Sadie Martin Dandy, a nutritionist who was a founder of the Meals on Wheels program at Brown Memorial Presbyterian Church.
After graduating from Gilman School in 1943, Dr. Dandy entered Princeton University. He earned an associate's degree and then entered the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, from which he earned his medical degree in 1948.
The day he graduated from medical school, he married Anne Allen Boyce, a registered nurse he had met six months earlier while doing a procedure at Hopkins.
From 1948 to 1950, Dr. Dandy was a surgery house officer at Duke University, and he completed a two-year residency in anesthesiology in 1952 at the University of Pennsylvania. He worked as an anesthesiologist at Johns Hopkins Hospital from 1952 to 1953.
"While at Duke, I realized that anesthesiology was becoming a 'new' specialty. At Hopkins Medical School, Dr. Austin Lamont was seeking to develop the first department of anesthesiology, and he stimulated my interest in this specialty," Dr. Dandy told Patrick Smithwick, author of "The Art of Healing: Union Memorial Hospital 150 Years of Caring for Patients."
Drafted into the Army in 1953, Dr. Dandy was chief of anesthesia and operating rooms at Fort Campbell, Ky., and later at an Army hospital in Munich, Germany. He was discharged in 1955 with the rank of captain.
That year, he joined the department of anesthesiology at Union Memorial Hospital.
"The practice of anesthesia at UMH was very satisfying because of the fine group of surgeons and obstetricians with whom I worked," he told Mr. Smithwick.
"First off, Walter was strong-willed and determined. He was a very opinionated guy and irascible. If you looked up that word in the dictionary, his picture would be next to it. And if you looked up class, it would there was well," recalled Dr. William H. B. Howard, a longtime Union Memorial colleague.
Dr. Howard was a medical resident when he needed an operation on his hand.
"He was still an anesthesiologist then, and I said, 'Dr. Dandy, can you give me a local? I want to watch the operation.' He said, 'Shut up,' and then turned on the juice. The next thing I knew, I was waking up in the recovery room," said Dr. Howard, laughing.
He added: "He was rarely wrong and very smart, and he was a good teacher."
"With succeeding years, my interests shifted from the practice of anesthesia to aspects of pulmonary medicine related to the treatment of respiratory failure," Dr. Dandy told Mr. Smithwick. "This evolved into the development of an 'intensive care unity' at UMH," which he explained was an "intensive nursing unit."
Dr. Dandy, who helped organize the unit in 1969, served as its medical director until retiring in 1985. He was also director of respiratory therapy from 1960 to 1985, and had been medical director of the hospital's dialysis unit from 1972 to 1985.
"Walter was one of the first intensivists in the country," said Dr. Howard.
Dr. Dandy's reputation as being demanding was well-known throughout the hospital.
"We arrived at ICU fearful of Dr. Dandy as we had firsthand knowledge of the power of this man. We witnessed residents rotating through the ICU with the same fear," Christine Harward Watts, a registered nurse, told Mr. Smithwick. "We came to realize that this man's bark was far worse than his bite."
Dr. Dandy's irascibility was at times aimed toward hospital administrators.
"Like most great physicians, Dr. Dandy had little appreciation for hospital administrators. When he wanted something done, he wanted it done immediately. He was infamous for calling administrators after 5 p.m. demanding 'to speak to the biggest shot still there,' " said Ms. Watts.
"He was always irritating someone, but his nurses appreciated the outcomes. He was truly a brilliant and powerful man who knew how to get things done," she said.
A former resident of Hunt Club Lane in North Roland Park, Dr. Dandy moved to a Monkton farm that he named Sylvian Fissure, where he built a greenhouse and indulged his passion for growing camellias.
He also filled his fields with varieties of vegetables and boasted of being an organic gardener since the 1930s. He credited his grandfather with teaching him how to grow them.
In his retirement, Dr. Dandy was a docent at the Walters Art Museum for 20 years. An avid bird watcher, he taught schoolchildren at Cylburn Arboretum.
He pursued model railroading — preferring O-gauge Lionel trains. He was a member of the Hamilton Street Club, Elkridge Club and Yeamans Hall Club in South Carolina.
He was a longtime member and former board president of Brown Memorial Woodbrook Presbyterian Church, 6200 N. Charles St., where a memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Aug. 24.
In addition to his wife of 65 years, Dr. Dandy is survived by two sons, Walter E. Dandy III of Vail, Colo., and John Dandy of Prospect Harbor, Maine; two daughters, Carol Beckley of Austin, Texas, and Nancy Patz of Grand Junction, Colo.; three sisters, Kathleen Gladstone of Wellesley, Mass., Mary Ellen Marmaduke of Portland, Ore., and Margaret Gontrum of Eugene, Ore.; seven grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun