Derek Godfrey Gill, 65, sociology professor


Derek Godfrey Gill, professor and chairman of the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, died Monday at St. Agnes Hospital from a ruptured aneurysm.

Dr. Gill, 65, of Ellicott City, chaired the school's sociology and anthropology department since 1986. He had been the chief medical-sociology researcher at the Medical Research Council in Scotland for 13 years before that.

"He was a highly respected department head," said Freeman A. Hrabowski III, UMBC's president. "He was a decent man with a great sense of humor. He was a serious scholar."

Dr. Gill had continued to teach this semester although his health was poor.

His specialty was health care and the welfare state. He lectured and published extensively in the United States and abroad.

His most recent book, "Eldercare, Distributive Justice, and the Welfare State: Retrenchment or Expansion," was published in 1994. He was working on books on the British and American health care systems, the influence of technology on health care, and the relationship between social and medical care systems.

Friends and colleagues said Dr. Gill had a unique teaching style so that students understood easily and he was always accessible to other faculty and students.

Dr. Leslie Morgan, a longtime friend and a professor at UMBC since 1979, said Dr. Gill worked long hours but was never too busy to talk.

She'd often knock on his office door while he was on the phone and talking to someone in his office. "But he'd wave me [in] with a big smile," Dr. Morgan said. "It was his willingness to help out anybody at anytime."

A native of Hitchin, England, Dr. Gill received a bachelor's degree from King's College of the University of London in the early 1950s. He received a doctoral degree from the University of Aberdeen in Scotland in 1964.

He was a fighter pilot with the Royal Air Force and a member of the Blue Diamonds, its precision flight team and one comparable to the Navy's Blue Angels.

During the early 1970s, he was a visiting scholar at McGill University in Canada and at Ohio State University.

In his youth, Dr. Gill won many awards for cross-country running, boxing, soccer and rugby. He was also an accomplished gourmet cook.

A memorial service is scheduled for 3 p.m. May 14 at the faculty/staff lounge at the university.

He is survived by his wife, the former Cheryl Cantrell, ; a daughter, Helena Finden-Browne of England; and two grandsons.

He and his first wife, the former Barbara Widdocks, were divorced in 1974.

Memorial donations may be made to the Derek Godfrey Gill Memorial Scholarship, care of the UMBC Department of Sociology and Anthropology.

Pub Date: 5/03/98

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