W. M. Hiscock, 71, public health officer


William McConway Hiscock, a public health officer who helped write federal comprehensive health legislation in the 1960s, died Tuesday at Johns Hopkins Hospital of pancreatic cancer.

Mr. Hiscock was a Medicaid Bureau program officer for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Health Care Financing Administration in Baltimore until his death last week. He was 71 and lived in Towson.

In his 47-year career, Mr. Hiscock also worked in health-related positions, ranging from directing studies in public health training for the Yale University School of Medicine to being executive director of the Central Maryland Health Systems Agency Inc.

"He did a lot for people through his work in public health," said his wife of 15 years, the former Barbara Strangmann. "He was a wonderful friend and family member."

During the 1960s, while employed in the Office of the Surgeon General, Mr. Hiscock was involved in drafting legislation that eventually created the Medicaid system and other health programs to aid children, senior citizens and the poor.

His recent accomplishments included implementing programs to help eligible children and their mothers receive services to which they were entitled, Mrs. Hiscock said.

In a short biography he wrote weeks before his death, Mr. Hiscock said, "In my public health career, it's been my good fortune to have served in both private and public sectors; in local, state and federal arenas; and to have functioned as health care purchaser, provider and planner."

Pursuing a public health career was natural for Mr. Hiscock, Mrs. Hiscock said.

"It was sort of a family thing," she said. "His father [Ira V. Hiscock] was dean of the school of public health at Yale."

Mr. Hiscock's mother, Margaret M. Scoville Hiscock, worked in bacteriology at Yale before starting her family, Mrs. Hiscock said.

A native of New Haven, Conn., Mr. Hiscock attended Hamden Hall and Hopkins Grammar School. After a year of post-high school education at Phillips Academy in Andover, Mass., Mr. Hiscock pursued a bachelor's degree in political science at Yale and graduated in 1943.

A member of the Army's Field Artillery Reserve Officers' Training Corps program at Yale, Mr. Hiscock then served three years of active duty during World War II working with communications divisions in Italy and Yugoslavia.

Upon his return home and after a year as a "special student" at Yale, Mr. Hiscock went to work for the County of Los Angeles Chief Administration Office, where he met the woman who would be his first wife, Irene Gilbert. The couple divorced in 1975.

Mr. Hiscock also was a graduate of Wesleyan University in Middletown, Conn., where he earned his master's degree of public administration in 1952.

Memorial services are scheduled for 3 p.m. today at Trinity Episcopal Church, 120 W. Allegheny Ave., Towson.

In addition to his wife, Mr. Hiscock is survived by a son, Robin M. Hiscock of Silver Spring; a daughter, Susan C. Hiscock of Los Angeles; and a granddaughter, Meghan E. Hiscock of Silver Spring.

He also is survived by two stepsons, William M. Donovan and David M. Donovan, both of Baltimore; a stepgranddaughter, Laurice L. Donovan of Davidsonville; and a sister, Margaret H. Weatherly of Mount Laurel, N.J.

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