Beatrice L. Selvin

The Baltimore Sun

Dr. Beatrice L. "Bea" Selvin, former clinical director of the department of anesthesiology at what is now University of Maryland Medical Center and professor of anesthesiology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, died of a cerebral hemorrhage Nov. 6 at Anne Arundel Medical Center. She was 85.

Dr. Selvin, who used her maiden name professionally, was born and raised in Hartford, Conn. She earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Michigan in 1941 and her medical degree from New York Medical College in 1945.

In 1948, she completed her anesthesiology residency program at Columbia University and joined its faculty. She worked closely with Dr. Virginia Apgar, a prominent obstetric anesthesiologist who developed the still-used Apgar score, which measures the health of newborns.

At the time Dr. Selvin joined the staff of the University of Maryland School of Medicine in 1964, she was one of only a few female physicians in the male-dominated field of anesthesiology.

Dr. Selvin, who was clinical director of the department of anesthesiology from the mid-1970s until retiring in 1986, was responsible for the daily operation of the operating rooms on the seventh floor in the old University Hospital.

Known as a strict disciplinarian, Dr. Selvin took excellent care of patients both in and outside of the operating room.

"She had a very difficult job as director of operations, which meant scheduling and dealing with a lot of volatile personalities. She made sure the operating rooms ran properly and did a very good job," said Dr. Joseph S. McLaughlin, retired chief of surgery.

"She was determined, feisty and had a very strong personality. She wouldn't back off from anybody, and everyone respected her for the job that she had to do," he said. "But despite her exterior, she was very, very kind and had a good heart. I liked her a great deal."

Dr. Martin Helrich, chairman of Maryland's anesthesiology department, hired Dr. Selvin.

"She was extremely hardworking and tough, and that rubbed some people the wrong way, but all she was doing was protecting her patients," Dr. Helrich said.

She joined the University of Maryland School of Medicine's faculty in 1964 as an assistant professor of anesthesiology and was promoted to professor in 1968, a position she held until she retired from teaching in 1982.

Colleagues remembered her as an outstanding role model for medical students and residents training in anesthesiology and for holding them to the highest standards.

Also, before more compassionate patient-focused medical training became fashionable for medical students, Dr. Selvin stressed appropriate bedside manner when working with patients as well as informed interaction with their families.

Dr. Selvin, who also conducted research and wrote widely in her field, was the author of Electroconvulsive Therapy.

A longtime resident of Long Point near Crownsville, Dr. Selvin enjoyed sailing and was known for owning and driving a succession of pink, white and purple Cadillacs.

After retiring, she was able to pursue an interest in foreign as well as local affairs, and in 1990, joined Janet S. Owens in her first campaign for elected office.

"I was running for Orphans' Court and I asked her, 'Do you want to go campaigning with me?' and she said yes," the former Anne Arundel County executive said yesterday. "She worked in all my subsequent campaigns, including the last one," for state comptroller in 2006.

Mrs. Owens described Dr. Selvin as an "intellectual with a sharp wit" who did everything during campaigns, "including giving me advice."

She said that Dr. Selvin could "drive young people crazy while grilling them during interviews. She had a phobia about kids and drugs."

After Mrs. Owens was elected county executive in 1998, Dr. Selvin served as member of her transition team and later as a member of a drug task force and personnel review board.

"She loved life and lived it her way," Mrs. Owens said.

"She wasn't particularly religious but was an ardent Zionist and maintained strong beliefs in Hadassah and Jewish charities," said David Sheehan, a lawyer and her personal representative.

"She was a fabulously colorful character who had a tremendous mind. She was always looking for ways to expand beyond the reality of medicine," he said.

Services were conducted yesterday.

Dr. Selvin was predeceased by three husbands, Leo Klauber, Stanford White and Jamie Peirce.

Survivors include a sister, Dinah Selvin of Bloomfield, N.J.

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