Dr. John C. Price, head and neck surgeon, dies

Dr. John C. Price, a retired head and neck cancer surgeon who had practiced at the Greater Baltimore Medical Center, died of an aneurysm May 27 at Johns Hopkins Hospital, where he had also been a staff member.

He was 74 and had lived in Lutherville before retiring to Lago Vista, Texas.

Born in Beaumont, Texas, he was the son of Biffel Price and his wife, Marie Nolan. He was an Eagle Scout, and worked summers as a pipeline welder’s helper to save for college.

He attended Rice University on a music scholarship and played the tuba in the school’s marching band.

After deciding to go into medicine — he initially wanted to be a cardiologist — he obtained a bachelor’s degree at Lamar State College of Technology, then received his medical degree at the University of Texas at Galveston in 1970.

“He was a gentle, sweet, soft-spoken man who was kind and giving,” said his wife, Jo Ogborn. “He loved his patients dearly.”

Dr. Price worked as an intern at Brackenridge Hospital in Austin, Texas, and was a resident at Walter Reed Army Hospital. He also trained under Dr. John Conley at Columbia-Presbyterian University Hospital in New York City.

He was stationed during the Vietnam War at an Army hospital on Okinawa, where he also worked with military scuba divers and was a flight surgeon. While at Camp Kui in Okinawa, he became interested in head and neck surgery. He went on to become chief of neck and facial reconstruction surgery at Brooke Army Hospital in San Antonio.

Dr. Price taught at the Georgetown University School of Medicine and was recruited by the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. There, he was named in 1985 as an associate professor of head and neck surgery and otolaryngology.

He also treated patients at the old Loch Raven Veterans Administration Hospital in Northeast Baltimore.

"John was a teacher to me. He was my mentor, partner and a friend,” said Dr. Alan Shikani of Baltimore. “He was a giant in head and neck surgery and an outstanding surgeon. John was full of life and and offered sound advice. He had a gentle, calm demeanor.”

“He successfully treated me for a rare cancer, located near the sinuses and the brain,” said John Rothwell, a former Johns Hopkins nurse who now lives in Asheville, N.C. “He was a modest man who did not use the ‘doctor’ title much and did not introduce himself that way. I never felt rushed when I had an office visit. He gave you the time you needed.”

Another friend, Dr. Andrea Cole, a retired pediatrician who lives in Lago Vista, said Dr. Price “offered hope with humility, patience and a profound surety in his surgical skills.”

“I could just hear John say in his slow, soft South Texas voice, ‘Uuuhhh, I think I can help you here,’ ” Dr. Cole said.

He was an avid sportsman. He hunted mountain goats, sheep and deer. He caught a marlin off the coast of Venezuela and enjoyed catching rockfish in the Chesapeake Bay.

He retained his interest in the Boy Scouts of America as an adult, and served as a Lutherville scoutmaster who led hikes along the Appalachian Trail and at Philmont in New Mexico, among others. He retained his interest in music and occasionally played at the Tuba Christmas event in Baltimore. He raised orchids and maintained a flower garden and lawn.

Dr. Price retired in 2004 and returned to his native Texas.

Funeral services will be held at 2:45 p.m. June 15 at the Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery, 1520 Harry Wurzbach Road in San Antonio, Texas.

Survivors include his wife, a retired chemical industry manager; a son, Andrew Price of Baltimore; two daughters, Meridith Price of Alexandria, Va. and Leigh Garvis of Charlotte, N.C.; two stepdaughters, Karen Picard of Point Pleasant Beach, N.J. and Lynn Miller of Kutztown, Pa.; a sister, Kathy Kelton of Grand Prairie, Texas; two grandchildren and two step-grandchildren.

jacques.kelly@baltsun.com

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