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Dr. Bill Howard was Harford County through and through [Editorial]

Dr. Bill Howard is shown practicing his rugby blocking in Baltimore's Herring Run Park in a 1981 Baltimore Sun photograph.
Dr. Bill Howard is shown practicing his rugby blocking in Baltimore's Herring Run Park in a 1981 Baltimore Sun photograph. (Baltimore Sun Archives / Baltimore Sun)

Dr. William H.B. "Bill" Howard, most well known as a Baltimore surgeon and sports medicine expert, was Harford County through and through.

Dr. Howard, who died Jan. 10 at age 81, spent his life on his family's Olney Farm in the Wilna area of the county, which is between Fallston and Joppa off Mountain and Old Joppa roads.

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He also loved bluegrass music, drove a Ford pickup truck with more than 300,000 miles on it and rarely wore a tie. Sounds like a true Harford County native.

But he was far from a country bumpkin. He had a booming physical presence and excelled academically, graduating from the St. Andrews School in Delaware, John Hopkins University and the University of Maryland School of Medicine.

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He is perhaps best known for basically creating sports medicine, at least in the greater Baltimore region, as he practiced at Union Memorial Hospital at East University Parkway and East 33rd Street in Baltimore. Dr. Howard, whose own sports activities included rugby, ran the emergency room at Union Memorial, where he noticed a fair number of athletes coming for treatment of injuries.

The hospital's proximity to Memorial Stadium, home of the Baltimore Colts and Orioles, led Dr. Howard into his pioneering field of sports medicine in 1979.

One of Dr. Howard's colleagues, Neil A. MacDonald, who was the sports medicine center's first physical therapist and athletic trainer, might have said it best about Dr. Howard:

"At that time, we were down the street from the old Memorial Stadium, and so many of the athletes would come in," MacDonald said. "He had an unbelievable work ethic. He was at the hospital 100 hours a week, at least. He had been raised on a farm, and it showed. He was a down-to-earth, solid guy, not pretentious, who related to the average athlete. His patients absolutely loved him."

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That's the Dr. Howard so many of us knew and loved, too. He will be sorely missed.

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