Dr. Harry McBrine Beck, a retired obstetrician and gynecologist who also was president of staffs at two city hospitals during a career of nearly five decades, died Friday of congestive heart failure at his home in Pinehurst. He was 79.
During his nearly 50 years in the medical profession -- 40 years in private practice -- Dr. Beck was on the staffs of many hospitals.
He spent seven years as the chief of obstetrics at South Baltimore General Hospital, now Harbor Hospital Center, and eight years heading Mercy Medical Center's obstetrics unit. While at those hospitals, he also was president of Mercy's medical staff and South Baltimore General Hospital's general staff.
Dr. Beck was on the staffs of Greater Baltimore Medical Center, St. Joseph Hospital, Bon Secours Hospital and the Lutheran Medical Center.
He retired in 1987.
"Dr. Beck was one of the most caring physicians I have ever met in my life," said Dr. James Russo, who worked with Dr. Beck at Mercy Medical Center. "He spent a lot of time with patients, listening to them and understanding them.
"He was an ideal physician, very enthralled with the practice of medicine, and was very sad when he had to retire," Dr. Russo said.
Dr. Beck was a member of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, the Baltimore City Medical Society, the American Medical Association, the Maryland Obstetrics and Gynecology Society -- of which he was the longtime secretary-treasurer -- and the Medical Chirurgical Faculty of Maryland. He was a diplomate of the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
He also was a member of the Johns Hopkins Club, the former University Club and the Baltimore Country Club.
Dr. Beck was born in Denver, moved to Baltimore with his family in 1919 and graduated from Forest Park High School in 1931.
was a premed major at the Johns Hopkins University and received his degree in 1935. He graduated from the University of Maryland medical school in 1939.
He began his medical career in 1939 by serving his internship and residency at what was then Mercy Hospital after graduating from medical school.
During World War II, he left the hospital in 1943 to serve with the Army Air Corps in Europe with the 240th General Hospital Unit and attained the rank of major.
After his military discharge in 1946, Dr. Beck became chief of the obstetrics and gynecology unit at what was then Fort Meade General Hospital.
About the same time, he joined the teaching staff at the University of Maryland medical school -- a pursuit he continued until 1956.
A memorial service will be held 10:30 a.m. today at the Church of The Redeemer, 5603 N. Charles St.
Dr. Beck is survived by his wife of 51 years, the former Mary Louise Springer of Pinehurst; two daughters, Katherine Beck Smith of Relay, and Melissa Beck Dudley of Rodgers Forge; a son, Thomas Springer Beck, of Rodgers Forge; and eight grandsons.