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Dr. Calvin Embert Jones Jr., retired vascular surgeon and Vietnam War veteran, dies

Dr. Calvin Embert Jones Jr. was chief of the Division of Vascular Surgery at Bayview until his retirement in the early 2000s.
Dr. Calvin Embert Jones Jr. was chief of the Division of Vascular Surgery at Bayview until his retirement in the early 2000s. (Handout / HANDOUT)

Dr. Calvin Embert Jones Jr., a retired vascular surgeon and faculty member of the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine recalled for his caring way with patients, died April 16 at Bayview Medical Center after suffering a fall at his home in Parkville. He was 82.

“He was a breath of fresh air for those of us interested in cardiovascular disease, and he was adept at all vascular operations,” said Dr. James H. Black III, a Johns Hopkins professor of surgery. “He was like a country doctor. He could talk to those down on their luck as effortlessly as he could chat with a Hunt Valley executive.

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“He knew their families and their struggles, and he often solved those problems along with their diseases.”

Born in Baltimore and raised on Hanover Street in South Baltimore, he was the son of Calvin E. Jones Sr., an office equipment dealer, and his wife, Pearl, a homemaker. He was a 1956 graduate of Baltimore City College, where he played soccer.

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As a young man he took a year off and worked at the old General Motors plant on Broening Highway.

He earned a bachelor’s degree at the University of Maryland, College Park. He was a graduate of the University of Maryland School of Medicine and received the A. Bradley Gaither Student Award. He did an internship at the old South Baltimore General Hospital.

“My father was a low-key guy. His personality was salt of the earth,” said his son, Thomas R. Jones of Finksburg.

Dr. Jones finished an internship and joined the Army Reserves. He was assigned to Washington, D.C., at the time of the 1968 riots. He asked his commanding officer for a change of assignment — something in the field of medicine — and was sent to a field hospital in Qui Nhon in Vietnam.

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“Cal was working as a field surgeon in Vietnam, where he met Dr. Tom Murphy, a surgeon from Chicago. He was carrying under his arm a few boxes of Fogarty catheters for the surgical units. These were brand-new items, a real and true innovation fresh from FDA approval,” said Dr. Black, his Hopkins colleague. “They are now a standard item in vascular surgery and used worldwide.”

Dr. Black also said, “Cal realized these devices in Vietnam could save the limbs of American soldiers, and it was the beginning of his career and interest in vascular surgery.”

Dr. Black recalled how he and Dr. Jones, many years later, shared an acquaintance with Dr. Murphy.

“Cal and I were operating once using those same catheters. He recalled meeting this surgeon Murphy in Vietnam and seeing these catheters for the first time as his first introduction to vascular surgery,” Dr. Black said. “It took about 20 more seconds for me to impersonate Dr. Murphy’s distinctive voice — his son was my best friend.”

After his military service, Dr. Jones did fellowships in Louisville, Kentucky, and Cincinnati and taught at the University of Louisville from 1974 to 1978.

Dr. Jones met his future wife, Dorothy Breneman, at a medical residents’ club. They married in 1971.

He established a private practice in Baltimore and joined the Hopkins faculty in 1989. He was chief of the Division of Vascular Surgery at Bayview until his retirement in the early 2000s.

Dr. Black described the role Dr. Jones took at Bayview: “Cal was a vascular mentor for every surgery resident who trained at Hopkins from 1990 until his retirement circa 2002. The surgery residents had immense respect for his skill. I wrote my first vascular paper with Cal, summarizing his phenomenal carotid surgery series with his unique technique, with a stroke and death rate that is among the best ever reported.”

He also said, “Cal also was involved in the first clinical trials to examine carotid surgery outcomes. This landmark paper was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association and still forms the basis of decision-making for carotid surgery today.”

Dr. Jones received the 1998 Faculty Teaching Award in the Hopkins Department of Surgery.

Dr. Black said he was now treating many of Dr. Jones’ former patients.

“We always reminisce about him. He was the best, and he expected the best,” Dr. Black said.

Dr. Jones went on voluntary medical assistance missions in Jamaica, Ethiopia and Benin. He did skin grafts at a Vietnam leprosarium and also volunteered at an Appalachian medical clinic.

He was a past trustee of Central Presbyterian Church.

In addition to his son, survivors include two brothers, Joseph Jones of Crofton and David Jones of Baltimore, and two grandchildren. His wife of 44 years, an interior designer, died in 2015.

The funeral service will be livestreamed at https://vimeo.com/539383053. Use passcode calvinjones.

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