Dr. J. King B.E. Seegar Jr., an obstetrician and gynecologist who had been deputy director of preventive medicine for the state Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, died Monday at the Edenwald retirement community of complications from Alzheimer's disease. He was 97.
Dr. Seegar was born in Baltimore, the son of Dr. John King Beck Emory Seegar Sr., a noted obstetrician and gynecologist who practiced in Baltimore for 45 years before his death in 1945.
Dr. Seegar was raised in Irvington and Roland Park and graduated in 1927 from Boys' Latin School. He earned a bachelor's degree from the old St. Stephen's College of Columbia University in 1933.
He earned his medical degree in 1937 from the University of Maryland School of Medicine and completed an internship and residency in obstetrics from what is now the University of Maryland Medical Center. In 1941 and 1942, he was chief resident in gynecology at Bon Secours Hospital.
During World War II, he served in the Army as a physician with the University of Maryland's 142nd General Hospital in Fiji and India, and ended his military service in 1946 with the rank of captain while working with the Manhattan Project at Oak Ridge, Tenn.
While maintaining a private practice in a Read Street office from 1946 to 1966, Dr. Seegar served as chief of obstetrics at St. Agnes and Bon Secours hospitals and taught at the Johns Hopkins and University of Maryland medical schools.
He received wide recognition for an emergency obstetrics course he developed in 1946. It became mandatory for Maryland State Police, city Police Department and Fire Department recruits.
"I let them know what nature is doing -- she has been pretty successful for some time," Dr. Seegar told The Evening Sun in a 1964 article on the program. "In emergency cases, the officers are there primarily to receive and resuscitate the baby and to offer encouragement to the mother. We don't intend for them to hang out their shingles."
After retiring from practice in 1966, he joined the state Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, where he developed and later headed the agency's maternity and family planning section.
He also operated birth control clinics in several of "Maryland's poorer counties," said an article in The Evening Sun in 1967. "He also serves as a salesman for a concept which -- as he puts it -- once was equated with 'indecency, pornography and sin.'"
Dr. Seegar was deputy director of preventive medicine at the time of his retirement in 1982.
"He was an old-fashioned doctor, and by that I mean he took a great interest in his patients as individuals," said Dr. Howard W. Jones Jr., his brother-in-law, and an internationally known pioneer of in vitro fertilization. "He certainly cared about that aspect of medicine and came from an era when that was very important."
Dr. Jones was married to Dr. Seegar's sister, Dr. Georgeanna Seegar Jones, a gynecological endocrinologist, and together the couple's efforts led to the birth of Elizabeth Jordan Carr, the nation's first test-tube baby, in 1981.
"King's father delivered me, so you can see, we are a close-knit family," Dr. Jones said yesterday from his home in Portsmouth, Va.
Dr. Seegar was an active member and the first president of the John Eager Howard chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution. He was an avid collector of U.S. stamps and coins.
The former Roland Park and Towson resident moved to the Towson retirement community in 1993. He was a longtime communicant of St. David's Episcopal Church, 4700 Roland Ave., where a memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. March 11.
Surviving are his wife of 65 years, Jane Isabelle Slick; three sons, Dr. J. King B.E. Seegar III of Franklin, W.Va., James M. Seegar of Baltimore and William S. Seegar of Glen Arm; a daughter, Jane I. Walker of Richmond, Va.; a sister, Elizabeth B. Seegar of Rockville; and five grandchildren.