Dr. Nancy Whitley, 66, radiology professor, CAT scan expert


Dr. Nancy O'Neil Whitley, former professor of diagnostic radiology and oncology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and an internationally recognized authority on the use of computerized axial tomography, died of cancer May 16 at the Gilchrist Center for Hospice Care. She was 66.

Dr. Whitley moved to Baltimore in 1978, when her husband, Dr. Joseph Whitley, whom she married in 1959, was named chairman of diagnostic radiology at the University of Maryland Medical School. He died in 1989.

As professor of diagnostic radiology and oncology at Maryland, she became an expert on the imaging of the chest and abdomen. She wrote one of the first articles on the use of the CAT scanner in diagnosing diseases of the abdomen.

"She was certainly an outstanding radiologist and one of the CAT scan pioneers," said Dr. John M. Dennis, former chairman of diagnostic radiology and dean of the school.

"Her work contributed significantly to early diagnosis of diseases and resulted in better patient care," he said.

Dr. Dennis described her as a "real lady who was greatly loved by patients and medical staff alike."

Dr. Kay Vydarney, a longtime friend and radiologist who lives in Atlanta, said, "She was a role model and friend to countless radiologists, a mentor, an organizational activist and a lover of life and good times."

Born in Winston-Salem, N.C., Dr. Whitley attended Duke University and transferred to the Bowman Gray School of Medicine at Wake Forest University in North Carolina, where she earned her medical degree in 1957.

She began her career at Western Electric Co. in Winston-Salem, where she was the company's first female industrial physician.

She returned to Bowman Gray and completed her diagnostic residency in 1969. She also became the first female chief resident at Bowman Gray and was appointed associate professor of radiology at the medical school in 1974.

She wrote or co-wrote more than 60 journal articles, six book chapters and a radiology textbook.

She was awarded two gold medals, one this year from the American Roentgen Ray Society and one from the Association of University Radiologists in 1994.

She retired from the University of Maryland in 1992, then was adjunct professor of diagnostic radiology at the Medical University of South Carolina at Charleston.

An accomplished photographer, Dr. Whitley specialized in black-and-white still-life pictures and landscapes of the Eastern Shore. She also used X-ray machines to create unusual images of flowers that were exhibited at several galleries in Maryland.

She is survived by a son, John O'Neil Whitley of Denton; a daughter, Catherine Anne Whitley of El Paso, Texas; a sister, Patricia O'Neil Goodyear of Baltimore; and four grandsons.

Services were private.

The family suggested memorial donations to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, 162 Prince George St., Annapolis 21401.

Pub Date: 5/24/98

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