Dr. McRae Whitaker Williams, a retired physician and former administrator at Union Memorial Hospital, died Tuesday at home. Dr. Williams' family did not request an autopsy to determine the cause of death.
The longtime Owings Mills resident was 75.
"He was [a] role model and mentor for many of us and had a direct grace that was truly remarkable. He spent most of his professional life at Union Memorial, as first physician, then executive, and [then] physician again," said Dr. Stuart B. Bell, vice president of medical affairs for Union Memorial, in an email last week to colleagues.
"Few of us could have returned to clinical practice and re-certified after a significant gap of time as he did," said Bell, who had known Dr. Williams for more than 30 years. "He was an excellent clinician, and beloved by his patients."
Dr. Williams retired in 2009 from Union Memorial, where he had served as a general practitioner of internal medicine and as an executive of outpatient medicine.
"He was defined by his marriage and his work," said Dr. Williams' son, Dr. McRae Witherspoon Williams, an emergency room doctor at Greater Baltimore Medical Center.
Dr. Williams and his wife, Ruth "Ruthie" Weaver Williams, were inseparable, he said. In the early 1990s, they even attended Loyola University Maryland together and received master's degrees in business.
The two met in high school, while Dr. Williams was attending Gilman and Mrs. Williams was enrolled at the Bryn Mawr School. Mrs. Williams, a mathematics teacher at several Baltimore schools, died of lung cancer on Sept. 7, during their 52nd year of marriage.
After Gilman, where he played varsity lacrosse, Dr. Williams received a bachelor's degree from Yale University and earned a medical degree at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. Upon graduating from medical school, Dr. Williams served as a captain in the Army and was stationed in Germany during the Korean War.
In 1979, when he was coordinating outpatient services for Union Memorial, Dr. Williams was a driving force behind the creation of the hospital's sports medicine division, said classmate, friend and co-worker Dr. William H.B. Howard, director of the hospital's Arnold Palmer Sports Health Center.
Four days after a sports medicine division was proposed to the hospital's president, Dr. Williams spurred its operation by having a sign made that read "Union Memorial Sports Medicine" and hanging it on a door off the emergency services unit, Howard said. Without Dr. Williams' early support, the hospital's now-thriving sports medicine division night not have gotten off the ground, he said.
"We've still got that green plastic sign," he said. Dr. Williams was an effective hospital administrator because he knew what it was like to be "in the trenches" as a physician, Howard said.
Patients had as much respect for Dr. Williams as the hospital staff he oversaw, family and friends said.
"There's no question the reason I became a doctor was because of him," said his son. "Whenever someone recognized we had the same name, there was never a time that they didn't stop to tell me what a wonderful doctor, what a great guy, he was."
Dr. Williams appreciated fine dining, particularly French food and wine, a taste he picked up while serving in the military in Europe, his son said. For a period, the family took annual trips to Switzerland during spring break, his son said.
Dr. Williams was enthusiastic about running. He also enjoyed mentoring medical students, stayed technology savvy and read voraciously.
"There wasn't anything he wasn't interested in," said Dr. Williams' son, who took his father's iPad after his death and discovered that it was packed with reading material. "He's only been retired [a short time] and there's got to be 120 books loaded on there."
Dr. Williams' father, the late Dr. Palmer F.C. Williams, also practiced medicine in Baltimore. Dr. Williams' mother was the late Louise McRae Williams. Dr. Williams had two brothers.
In accordance with Dr. Williams' wishes, there will be no funeral service.
Dr. Williams' survivors include his son, of Towson, and a daughter, Palmer "Puddin" Williams Campbell, of Marriottsville.