Dr. Thomas B. Connor, 73, specialist in endocrinology


Dr. Thomas B. Connor: A professorship fund at the University of Maryland Medical School was established in Dr. Connor's honor, not, as yesterday's obituary incorrectly reported, in his deceased brother's memory.

The Sun regrets the error.

Dr. Thomas B. Connor, the founder and first director of the University of Maryland Medical School's Division of Endocrinology, died of prostate cancer yesterday at his home in Baltimore. He was 73.

Dr. Connor, a graduate of Loyola College and the University of Maryland Medical School, became curious about endocrinology while he was studying on a fellowship under Dr. John Eager Howard, an expert in the field, at Johns Hopkins Hospital in the early 1950s.

One day, Dr. Connor recalled recently, Dr. Howard asked him why he was interested in the subject, regarded by some as a fairly esoteric pursuit at that time.

"Because I know so little about it," Dr. Connor replied.

Endocrinology is a branch of medicine that deals with the body's glands of internal secretions, such as the pituitary gland that regulates growth hormones.

Dr. Connor's curiosity about the subject eventually led to his establishing the division of endocrinology when he returned from Hopkins to Maryland in 1956 as an assistant professor of medicine. He published more than 50 papers that dealt principally with clinical investigative studies in a variety of endocrine-metabolic disorders.

"The explosion in knowledge has been fantastic," Dr. Connor said, recalling his and his colleagues' studies of the subject in recent decades.

Dr. Connor also was director of the clinical research center at the University of Maryland Hospital from 1961 to 1972 and a consultant in medicine at Mercy Medical Center and the Baltimore Veterans Hospital.

After his retirement in 1987, the University of Maryland Medical School inaugurated a fund-raising program to establish the Dr. Thomas B. Connor Professorship Fund in memory of Dr. Connor's deceased brother, Eugene Connor.

Dr. John M. Dennis, dean emeritus at the medical school who had known Dr. Connor for 50 years, called him "an outstanding endocrinologist" who was "an easygoing, well-liked physician dedicated to the care of patients, students and residents."

Dr. Thomas E. Woodward, professor of medicine emeritus at the medical school, wrote in the Maryland Medical Journal at the time of Dr. Connor's retirement: "Tom Connor has been fully dedicated to his life as an academician. No one has been more effective in the teaching and counseling of medical students and fellows during their training in endocrinology.

"He was especially meticulous in his investigative studies and the rendering of care to his patients," Dr. Woodward observed.

He was a member of Monthly Medical Reunion, the Baltimore City Medical Society and the Medical and Chirurgical Faculty of Maryland.

A Mass of Christian burial will be offered at 11:30 a.m. Monday at the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen, 5300 N. Charles St., where he was an active communicant.

Dr. Connor is survived by his wife of 38 years, the former Eleanor Rulis; a son, Dr. Thomas B. Connor Jr., a member of the faculty at the Eye Institute of the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee; a daughter, Dr. Kathryn McCabe Connor Lavelle, a third-year resident in psychiatry at the Duke University Medical Center; three brothers, Louis B. Connor and Robert M. Connor, both of Baltimore, and Paul F. Connor of Severna Park; and a sister, Ann L. Connor of Columbia.

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