Dr. Albert Frank Heck, a retired neurologist and University of Maryland professor, died of heart failure Dec. 3 at the Charlestown Retirement Community. The former Timonium and Reisterstown resident was 88.
Born in Baltimore and raised in the Clifton Park neighborhood, he was the son of Albert Franklin Heck, a Baltimore City police officer, and his wife, Dorothy Mary Jirsa, a Chesapeake and Potomac Telephone operator.
He was a 1950 graduate of the McDonogh School and received a degree in biology from the Johns Hopkins University. He was a 1958 graduate of the University of Maryland School of Medicine and a member of the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society.
After an internship at Mercy Medical Center, he was a National Institutes of Health Fellow in neurology at the University of Maryland.
He was an Army reservist in the 815th Tank Battalion during college and was commissioned an officer in the Medical Service Corps and later the Medical Corps in the 457th General Hospital.
“His commanding officer was William Donald Schaefer, later mayor and governor. They spoke at that period, and my father heard Schaefer even then envisioning tearing down the old wharves in the harbor and fixing downtown Baltimore up,” said his son, Robert C. Heck of Cockeysville.
In 1964 Dr. Heck was assigned to the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, where he worked on neural mechanisms in shock. He was a neurologist on the “front section,” treating officers, dependents and the diplomatic corps, as well as an instructor in the neurology residency training program.
Dr. R Adams Cowley named him an assistant professor of neurology in 1964 at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. He also worked at the Shock Trauma Center and did research in shock and head trauma.
Dr. Heck worked to establish and later direct Maryland’s Stroke Clinic.
From 1965 to 1977 he served as coordinator of the multidisciplinary University of Maryland Stroke Center. In 1973 he participated in the design and clinical directorship of the intensive care Acute Stroke Unit. He was named a professor of neurology in 1972.
In 1973 Dr. Heck was awarded a Humboldt Prize as a United States Senior Scientist by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation of the Federal Republic of Germany.
During the year 1973-1974 he was also a visiting professor in the Department of Neurosurgery at the Medizinische Hochschule Hannover, the medical school of Lower Saxony. He worked on the effects of brain distortion and increased intracranial pressure on heart rate, blood pressure, respiration and the microscopic blood vessels of the brain.
“This experience was one of the highlights of life,” said his son. “It was a life-changing experience.”
In 1977 he was named a professor and chairman of the Department of Neurology and director of neurosciences at the University of Tennessee at Memphis.
He moved to private practice in Charleston, West Virginia, and was also clinical professor of neurology and director of neurological education in the Charleston division of the West Virginia School of Medicine and the Charleston Area Medical Center.
He returned to Baltimore about 20 years ago and worked as a consultant in neurology in the Office of Disability Policy at the Social Security Administration.
The Morning Sun
Dr. Heck held the title of diplomat with the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology. He was also a Fellow of the American College of Physicians, the American Academy of Neurology, the American Neurological Association, the American Heart Association, a founding member and Fellow of the Stroke Council and a Fellow of the American and International Colleges of Angiology.
Governors Robert Ehrlich and Martin O’Malley named him to the Maryland State Advisory Council on Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention.
From 2001 until 2018 he served as a consultant in neurology in the Office of Disability Policy at the Social Security Administration in Baltimore.
“My father was proud of the long road he had taken,” said his son. “He lived for the medical world. He said the things he missed most in retirement were his patients and the students and resident physicians in training he had taught for over 40 years.”
He enjoyed traveling to historic sites and reading histories.
Because of the coronavirus, interment is delayed until spring 2021.
In addition to his son, survivors include three other sons, Dr. Albert W. Heck of Camp Hill, Pennsylvania, Karl A. Heck of West Lawn, Pennsylvania, and Lt. Colonel Paul C. Heck of Blythewood, South Carolina; his companion of 21 years, Marilyn M. Shangraw of Catonsville; a sister, Dorothy Foos of Parkville; seven grandchildren; and a great-granddaughter. His marriage to Carole Ann Blomeier ended in divorce.