Dr. James E. Toher, administrator

Dr. James E. Toher, former chairman of the department of obstetrics and gynecology at St. Agnes Hospital, died Tuesday of heart failure at his residence in Catonsville. He was 70.

He spent his entire career at the Southwest Baltimore hospital where he was appointed ob/gyn head in 1973. He retired from there in 1986.


Dr. James Castellano, who succeeded him in the department chairmanship and retired this year, said, "He was honest as the day is long and was very ethical and deeply religious. In 1980, he organized the obstetrical group at the hospital which provided 24-hour coverage and also introduced micro-surgery to the hospital.

"He was an excellent chairman who wanted things done properly -- he ran a tight ship at St. Agnes -- and had a real tight rein on things there."


Dr. Castellano said Dr. Toher's personality was "not that of the typical Irishman. He was very serious and also a very good bridge player."

Dr. Toher had been active in the Brazilian mission of the Pallottine Fathers of Baltimore. He traveled in the early 1970s to Mato Grosso, Brazil to evaluate hospitals and medical clinics there.

His professional memberships included the American College of Surgeons and the American Board of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. He was a fellow of the American College of Ob/Gyn and a diplomate of the National Board of Medical Examiners.

Dr. Toher was also a member of the Medical and Chirurgical Faculty of Maryland, the Baltimore County Medical Society and the American Institute of Ultra-Sound Medicine.

The native of Pawtucket, R.I., earned his bachelor's degree in 1950 from Providence College in Providence, and his M.D. from Georgetown University School of Medicine in 1954.

He did his internship and residency in ob/gyn at St. Agnes Hospital and completed postgraduate training at Cook County Hospital in Chicago.

He enlisted in the Army Air Forces in 1942 and served as a navigator aboard B-17 Flying Fortresses of the 8th Air Force, flying missions over North Africa, Italy and Germany. He was discharged in 1946 with the rank of lieutenant.

It was his love of aviation that led to his obtaining a private pilot's license in 1960 and eventually the ownership of a twin-engine Piper aircraft.


"We flew a lot together and Jim was an excellent pilot," said Dr. Castellano. "Flying takes your mind off of all of the other worries a physician has and, plus, you have to concentrate on keeping alive while you're up there."

Known as a family man who was deeply religious, he was a longtime member of St. Mark Roman Catholic Parish on Melvin Avenue, Catonsville, where a Mass of Christian burial was to be offered at 10 a.m. today.

He is survived by his wife, the former Devona Green, whom he married in 1947; three daughters, Sharon Strouse and Donna Naslund, both of Cockeysville, and Elizabeth Milne of Gaithersburg; two brothers, Joseph Toher of Columbia, S.C., and Raymond Toher of Hilton Head, S.C.; two sisters, Agnes Keenan of Coventry, R.I., and Margaret Morrissey of Long Island, N.Y.; and eight grandchildren.

The family suggested memorial contributions be made to the James E. Toher, M.D. Memorial Fund, c/o John Bartlett, M.D., Johns Hopkins Hospital, Ross 1159, 720 Rutland Ave., Baltimore 21205.