Dr. Joseph H. Hooper Jr., surgeon, dies

Dr. Joseph Henry Hooper Jr., a retired Baltimore surgeon, hospice volunteer and avid outdoorsman, died Sunday of heart failure at Gilchrist Hospice Care.

The longtime Ruxton resident was 82.


Dr. Hooper, who was the son of an insurance executive and a homemaker, was born in Baltimore and raised in Ruxton and at Cambria, his family's Baltimore County farm.

After graduating from Gilman School in 1946, Dr. Hooper earned a bachelor's degree from Princeton University in 1950.


He was a 1954 graduate of the Johns Hopkins University's School of Medicine and completed surgical internships and residencies at Union Memorial Hospital and Perry Point Veterans Hospital.

In the mid-1950s, Dr. Hooper joined the Navy and served aboard the icebreaker Edisto in the Pacific and Atlantic oceans, visiting Alaska and Cuba during his tour of duty.

Dr. Hooper established a private general surgical practice in 1960 at Union Memorial Hospital with Dr. William E. Gilmore, and eventually formed a partnership with Dr. William H.B. Howard.

Dr. Hooper maintained his practice at Union Memorial and Greater Baltimore Medical Center until retiring in 1996.

"I came to Union in the 1960s, after leaving a practice in Pennsylvania, and was working in the operating room when Joe took an interest in me. He then asked me to be his partner," recalled Dr. Howard.

"He was an absolutely, straightforward-ahead gentleman. What he said, he meant, and he was never too busy to help," said Dr. Howard. "If I were in the operating room and needed help, he'd scamper on down."

He described Dr. Hooper as being "an excellent general abdominal surgeon."

"Joe was uncomplicated when in the operating room. He never went on tangents and proceeded from A to B to C. He got the job done," Dr. Howard said.


Dr. Howard recalled that when laparoscopic surgery began being performed at Union Memorial Hospital, Dr. Hooper embraced it.

"It was a new technique that required a lot of new skills that you had to learn. It was really hard for the older guys, and many of them retired," Dr. Howard said. "Joe was probably the oldest guy around here and it was pretty darn complicated, but he learned how to do it."

Dr. L. Myrton Gaines, former chief of the medical staff at Greater Baltimore Medical Center who retired in 1994, was a colleague and longtime fishing buddy.

"He was greatly admired for his skills and was a thoroughly kind person. He always did such a great job, and I admired that," Dr. Gaines said. "He was a quiet and friendly man, and not a guy who told jokes, but he'd smile at yours."

Jo Anne Hobelmann and her husband, Dr. Charles Hobelmann, were longtime close professional and personal friends.

"Joe had a great shock of white hair and a soft way about him," Mrs. Hobelmann said. "He'd always give you a hug and ask how your kids were doing. I thought the world of him, and he's going to be missed."


Dr. Hooper's professional memberships included the Baltimore City Medical Society, of which he was a former president, the Medical and Chirurgical Faculty of Maryland and the American College of Surgeons.

After retiring, Dr. Hooper joined Dr. Gaines in volunteering at Gilchrist Hospice Care.

"He was a very compassionate person. He saw that I was enjoying myself volunteering there, and he joined me," said Dr. Gaines. "We both felt good about helping someone and making a new friend."

Dr. Hooper was an accomplished freshwater and saltwater fly fisherman and waterfowl hunter, and he hunted deer with a bow and arrows. He also enjoyed scuba diving in the Caribbean.

One of the events that Dr. Hooper looked forward to each autumn was the annual Waterfowl Festival held in Easton, friends said. He also liked angling for bluefish in the Outer Banks.

"Joe was a terrific fisherman, and we had a lot of wonderful times fishing at the Outer Banks," Dr. Gaines said.


"We even started the Johns Hopkins Surf Fishing Blue Jays fishing team and entered tournaments. We had our own hats and uniform, and had more darn fun bluefishing," he said.

Dr. Hooper was a member of the Bachelors Cotillon, Society of the Cincinnati and Sons of Colonial Wars. He was also an active member of Ducks Unlimited, Trout Unlimited and the Hopkins Club.

"Joe was one really decent guy who didn't have one mean bone in his body. He'd help anybody any time they needed it," Dr. Howard said.

A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Friday at the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd, Carrollton and Boyce avenues, Ruxton.

Surviving are his wife of 40 years, the former Shirley Wingo; a son, Joseph H. Hooper III of New York City; two daughters, Brent Hooper Moore of Ruxton and Cricket Hooper Jiranek of Old Greenwich, Conn.; a sister, Deborah B. Boyd of Baltimore; and four granddaughters. An earlier marriage ended in divorce.