Dr. Thomas Rutter O'Rourk, a retired ophthalmologist who practiced for many years in Mount Vernon and Dundalk, died of liver failure Saturday at the Blakehurst retirement community. The former Homeland resident was 83.
Born in Baltimore, he was the son of Dr. Thomas R. O'Rourk, an otolaryngology professor at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, and Billie Pine. He attended the Calvert School and was a 1952 graduate of the Gilman School. He earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Maryland, College Park, and then earned a degree from the University of Maryland School of Medicine.
He grew up in a then-rural part of Towson on Greenwood Road, where his family had a horse and raised chickens. At College Park, he was a member of the Phi Delta Theta fraternity and the M Club. He was the team manager under football coach Jim Tatum and accompanied the Terrapins to the 1954 Orange Bowl.
Dr. O’Rourk did his internship at the Washington Hospital Center in Washington, and his residency in ophthalmology at the old Baltimore Eye, Ear and Throat Hospital. on Eutaw Place.
He was awarded a fellowship in ophthalmology at the Washington Hospital Center, Johns Hopkins Hospital and the University of Iowa.
While he was in his last year of medical school, he met his future wife, Maria Digges, who was a secretary at the University of Maryland Hospital. They married in 1963.
Dr. O’Rourk joined his father in his ophthalmology practice in a medical office building his father owned at 104 W. Madison St. in Mount Vernon. He also had an office in Dundalk, where he treated patients who worked at the old Bethlehem Steel and General Motors plants, among other job sites.
“He would say, ‘ At first, so many of the patients would want to see my father, and I would just sit there. But soon that turned around,’ ” said his secretary, Dorothy Reilly, who lives in Havre de Grace.
“We had a huge number of patients, and he hated to turn anyone away. He saw a lot of people, at no charge too,” she said. “He loved to sit and chat with them.”
She recalled that if Dr. O’Rourk saw that a patient who had just undergone a procedure lacked a ride home, he would drive them and pick up their prescriptions on the way.
“He was good at removing foreign bodies — generally pieces of blown metal — from eyes,” said Mrs. Reilly. “It was part of his work with the patients who worked in industry.”
Dr. O’Rourk was on the staffs of Maryland General, Mercy, Good Samaritan, James Lawrence Kernan and Franklin Square hospitals.
“I often said of Tom, he was the best person you would ever want your daughter to marry,” said Edwin A. Butler, a friend since he and Dr. O’Rourk attended Maryland as students. “He was fun-loving, easy to get along with, and unselfish.”
Family members said he rarely missed a high school sports game when his grandsons competed. He taught them golf, swimming, shooting skeet, surf casting and deep-sea fishing.
Dr. O’Rourk hunted with friends for waterfowl of the Eastern Shore, pheasant in South Dakota, caribou in Northern Canada and perdiz, a form of partridge, in Argentina. He received a citation from the state of Virginia for one of his rockfish catches.
“Golf was a great love and playing with his friends a great joy, especially when he had a hole-in-one,” said his daughter, Maria O’Malley of Baltimore. “He also enjoyed his real estate interests and laughed at the puns and corny jokes his patients provided.”
He had been a member of the Baltimore Country Club since boyhood. He also belonged to the Princess Anne Country Club, the Wednesday Club at the Maryland Club, the L'Hirondelle Wednesday Club and the Loch Raven Skeet Club.
“He really enjoyed his hunting and didn’t mind getting up at 4 in the morning to drive to the Eastern Shore,” said Mr. Butler. “He was a good shot and would say, ‘Some days you just can’t hit a bird, and some days you are very good.’ ”
“Tom was affable and wanted to please his friends,” said another friend, Dr. Pedro Purcell. “He’d arrive in the hunting blind with coffee and biscotti for everyone.”
A Mass will be held at 11 a.m. Friday at Immaculate Conception Roman Catholic Church, 200 Ware Ave. in Towson.
In addition to his wife of 54 years and his daughter, survivors include two grandsons. A son, Thomas O’Rourk, died in infancy.