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Dr. Basri Sila, noted child psychiatrist, dies

Dr. Basri Sila, noted child psychiatrist, dies
Dr. Basri Sila was a retired child and adolescent psychiatrist who had practiced in Mount Vernon and Lutherville and worked in Head Start program. (Handout)

Dr. Basri Aras Sila, a retired child and adolescent psychiatrist who practiced in Mount Vernon and Lutherville, died June 2 of acute leukemia at Gilchrist Hospice Care in Towson. The Ruxton resident was 87.

Born in Istanbul, Turkey, he was the son of Zuhtu Sila, a banker, and his wife, Adile Sila. Family members said that as a child, he suffered from tuberculosis and as a result was left back a year in school.

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“Painful as it was, my husband later described the disease as a blessing, because it put him in the same medical school class as I, his future wife,” said Dr. Ulgan Inan Sila, a physician and allergist.

They enrolled and studied together at the University of Istanbul’s medical school. They graduated in 1956 and immediately married.

They spent a year in Detroit, Mich. as interns at the old Women’s Hospital, then moved to St. Louis, Mo., to begin residencies at Barnes Hospital at Washington University. He worked in psychiatry while his wife worked in pediatrics.

After completing their residencies, they returned to Turkey in order for Dr. Sila to fulfill his military service requirement. He served in the Turkish Air Force for two years. In 1964 they returned to the United States and settled in Baltimore, establishing a home in Pikesville.

Dr. Sila opened a medical practice on Park Avenue in Mount Vernon and in Lutherville. He retired in 2017.

“In our 62 years of marriage, Basri gave me endless happiness, strength and love,” his wife said. “He was kind and caring and he loved life — and he loved to help people.”

Dr. Sila made a medical specialty of child and adolescent psychiatry.

“He was a leader in his field and a compassionate physician,” said his grandson, Ryan Sila of New York City. “He never turned away a patient who was unable to pay him his full fee.”

Dr. Sila was on the faculties of the University of Maryland and the Johns Hopkins University schools of medicine. He taught students in their psychiatry programs and supervised their residents.

He was director of the child psychiatry division of the University of Maryland’s Inner City Mental Health Services for Children and Adolescents. He was also a past president of the Maryland Adolescent Psychiatry Society, and was one of the group’s early members.

Dr. Sila also served 30 years as a child psychiatry consultant for the Baltimore City Head Start Center. Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke awarded him a citation and award of merit for his work with the Head Start program.

He received numerous professional honors. Among these, the Maryland Psychiatric Society awarded him a certificate of appreciation for his lifetime of service in fostering the science and progress of psychiatry. The American Society for Adolescent Psychiatry named him a Life Fellow.

“His greatest rewards were his lifelong relationships he built with his patients and the knowledge that he made a difference in their lives,” said his grandson. “He had a number of patients he first saw as children and he followed them for many years.”

Dr. Sila traveled throughout the world.

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“He was always seeking to learn about and experience new cultures,” his grandson said. “When he and my grandmother were not traveling, they enjoyed each other’s company at home. They were partners, best friends, and soulmates.”

He enjoyed Turkish dishes and also had a taste for French food. He had attended a French school as a child and was a student of French culture. He sought restaurants that served a chocolate souffle.

He was a subscriber to the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.

“My grandfather taught all who knew him how to live life joyfully and passionately,” his grandson said. “He knew how to enjoy a good glass of wine, scotch, or cognac. He had a library full of his favorite works of classical music. He took up photography. Prints of his photos of scenes from all over the world hang on the walls of his home. He often said, ‘I have lived.’”

In addition to his wife and grandson, survivors include two sons, Kaya Sila of Philadelphia and Bora Sila of Westport, Conn.; four other grandchildren; and a great granddaughter.

A private service was held at Druid Ridge Cemetery in Pikesville.

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