Dr. William McGrath, 85, Catonsville physician, St. Agnes staff member

Dr. William Edward McGrath, a Catonsville physician who practiced for more than half a century, died of cancer Monday at his home. He was 85.

Until he retired because of bad health last month, Dr. McGrath saw patients at an office he opened in 1953 at his home on Frederick Avenue, two years after establishing his medical practice.


"He was an excellent physician, the kind patients never left," said Dr. Stanley L. Minken, a professor of surgery at Uniformed Services University in Bethesda. "He helped young, new physicians. And he was impish, with a dry, Irish kind of humor. He was a yarn spinner. I enjoyed being with him all the time."

Born in Baltimore and raised on Hilton Street, he attended St. Edward Parochial School and graduated from Loyola High School in 1935. He earned a degree from Loyola College and was a member of the December 1943 graduating class at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.


"Dr. McGrath was a very smart student. He was eighth in the class of 100 medical school students," said Dr. Cliff Ratliff Jr., a classmate and retired internist who lives in Ellicott City. "To his last days, he was sharp. On Saturdays, he and I went to Johns Hopkins for grand rounds to keep up on new things in medicine. He had a very inquisitive mind."

He completed his internship at then-St. Agnes Hospital - where he was later director of the emergency room and a longtime staff member - and in 1944 joined the Army Medical Corps. He attained the rank of captain.

Returning to St. Agnes, he completed his residency and then worked as a contract physician and surgeon for Bethlehem Steel Corp. in Sparrows Point, and at Fort Meade, from 1948 until being recalled to service in the Korean War in 1950.

Dr. McGrath set up his private practice in 1951 at Catonsville Junction. In 1953, he moved to a combined home and office on Frederick Avenue.

"He was the least judgmental person I ever saw. There was nothing censorious about him," said the Rev. Michael Roach, a nephew who is pastor of St. Bartholomew Roman Catholic Church in Manchester. "When you went to see him in the office, it was never a five-minute job. It was a 45-minute consultation from head to toe. He was an excellent diagnostician. He treated the whole person, he didn't just talk about symptoms.

"He had an early [racially] integrated practice. Long before other doctors opened their waiting rooms to all, he did."

In 1966, he was honored by the board of directors at St. Agnes for half a century of outstanding service to the Southwest Baltimore medical institution.

A former president of the Catonsville Business Association, Dr. McGrath was a student of the arts, literature and horticulture - growing orchids and gardenias. He traveled extensively in Africa, Germany and the United Kingdom.


A requiem Mass will be offered at 10 a.m. Saturday at St. Mark's Roman Catholic Church, 30 Melvin Ave., Catonsville, where he was a member.

Dr. McGrath is survived by three sons, Kevin McGrath of Arnold, Timothy McGrath of Towson and Thomas McGrath of Catonsville; five daughters, Ellen McGrath Weetenkamp and Jane McGrath, both of Catonsville, Ann McGrath Macin of Laurel, Mary McGrath Storch of Arnold and Brigid McGrath Shifflett of Mount Airy; a sister, Mary Elizabeth Leech of Catonsville; 11 grandchildren; and a great-grandson. His marriage to Doris Walkling ended in divorce.