Dr. J. David Nagel, a retired internist who was a leader in the state's medical profession, died Tuesday of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Lou Gehrig's disease, at his Butler home. He was 66.
President of the state medical society from 1991 to 1992, Dr. Nagel made numerous appearances before the Maryland General Assembly to discuss issues affecting medicine.
Born Jacob David Nagel in Baltimore, he was the son of Dr. Henry Nagel, physician at what was then the Levindale Hebrew Home and Infirmary.
As a young man, Dr. Nagel spent time at Pimlico Race Course and sold racing tipping sheets at the track near his boyhood home on Cylburn Avenue.
A 1956 City College graduate, he earned a Bachelor of Science degree at Loyola College and received his medical education at the University of Maryland. He was chief resident at what is now Mercy Medical Center and served in the Maryland Army National Guard in the 1960s.
"He was an engaging person who had a long memory of the details of his patients' lives," said Dr. Thomas Allen, a physician and friend of 30 years.
Dr. Nagel practiced internal medicine from 1968 until he retired because of his illness in 2001. He had an office on York Road in Towson and was on the staffs of St. Joseph Medical Center and Franklin Square Hospital Center. He was president of the latter's medical staff from 1977 to 1979.
"He was the kind of diagnostician who felt he could get to the core root of most any complaint," said his wife of 19 years, the former Dianne Hanson. "He had the confidence of the people he treated and could tell if there were a medical issue or whether there was something troubling going on within the family."
Dr. Nagel had also been associate medical director for what is now United Health Care and a regional medical director for New York Life Insurance Co.'s health plan.
"He was a visionary, a man who was able to think ahead, to see what was ahead for physicians, our patients and for society in general," said Dr. Albert Blumberg, a friend and radiation oncologist at Greater Baltimore Medical Center.
Dr. Nagel belonged to numerous professional groups, including the American Medical Association, for which he had been chairman for long-range planning and development. Colleagues said he was in line to become the AMA president but that his illness prevented it.
"He was interested in the careers of younger physicians and liked to bring them into leadership positions within the profession," said Dr. Scott Hagaman, a psychiatrist who is incoming president of the Medical and Chirurgical Faculty of Maryland, the state medical society.
In addition to the interest he maintained in thoroughbred racing, Dr. Nagel was a fan of the Colorado Avalanche ice hockey team.
In addition to his wife, a former nurse, survivors include three daughters, Jennifer Zuckerberg and Melissa Wetzler, both of Boca Raton, Fla., and Carrie Etheridge of Baltimore; two sisters, Rosalie Alsop and Sophia Nagel, both of Baltimore; and six grandchildren.
Services were held yesterday in Pikesville.