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Dr. Charles Earl Hill, retired family practitioner and University of Maryland faculty member, dies

Dr. Charles Earl Hill trained scores of residents in family medicine.
Dr. Charles Earl Hill trained scores of residents in family medicine. (handout)

Dr. Charles Earl Hill, a retired family practitioner who taught at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, died of heart disease May 31 at the Charlestown Retirement Community. He was 85 and had lived in Pasadena.

“Dr. Hill’s impact is no less than astounding, in his 25-year career, having trained approximately 13 residents per year, each of whom would go on to practice for 30 years,” said Dr. Richard Colgan, professor and vice chair of the Department of Family Medicine, who was also one of Dr. Hill’s residents.

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“The physicians he taught, if they practiced for 30 years, with an average patient panel of 2,500 patients, would translate to 24,375,000 patient visits. He had a cascading effect,” Dr. Colgan said.

Born in Baltimore and raised in Morrell Park, he was the son of Vernon Hill, a cabinetmaker, and his wife, Amelia Skelps, a homemaker. He was a 1952 City College graduate.

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Family members said he initially wanted to be an attorney, but a neighborhood family doctor persuaded him to pursue medicine.

He earned a bachelor’s degree at what is now Loyola University Maryland and was a 1960 graduate of the University of Maryland School of Medicine.

He met his future wife, Enola Mae “Tink” Scharf, through a mutual friend who introduced them. They married in 1957, and she supported him through medical school.

Dr. Hill served in the Army Reserve and worked in the Office of the Surgeon General from 1962 to 1964.

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Before his military service, Dr. Hill established a practice on Fort Smallwood Road in Pasadena in 1961, where he practiced medicine through 1972.

“My father was patient-focused, where he had evening hours and made house calls,” said his daughter, Karen Hill Tolzman of Easton. “He was quiet, studious and a man of integrity.”

She also said, “He made house calls and one night, while dressed formally, he got one. He in his tuxedo and my mother in a grown went off to the patient as if nothing had happened.”

She recalled her father being fascinated by new technology and researching what was available for the best value.

“He bought a Saab when no one had a Saab. People called it the ‘football’ because that’s what it resembled. It was odd in that it had front-wheel drive,” his daughter said. “My father was once stopped by the police in a snowstorm because he was driving without chains and the officers did not know what front-wheel drive was.”

She also said that she and her siblings never got to miss school by pretending they were sick.

“I recall never getting prescriptions filled,” she said. “We got whatever was left in the medicine cabinet.”

She said her father was committed to serving his community and raising the profession of the family practice physician.

“He believed that better medical care started with the family physician and their familiarity with the patient,” she said.

In 1972 Dr. Hill was recruited to serve in the University of Maryland School of Medicine’s newly formed Department of Family Medicine. He was an assistant professor from 1974 to 1976 and an associate professor from 1976 to 1999. He also served as an acting department chair.

“Dr. Hill was the bridge between the old-time general practitioner and the residency-trained family physician,” Dr. Colgan said. “He made me feel welcomed at our first meeting and said, ‘Would you like a cup of tea?’

“Dr. Hill was a true pioneer in our discipline,” Dr. Colgan said.

“He did a wonderful job in training family physicians who are now providing family care throughout Maryland,” said a friend, Dr. Harry C. Knipp of Reisterstown. “He was a quintessential family doc — caring and thinking of the patient as a whole, not just considering a single disease. He thought of the patient’s family and their entire lifestyle.”

Dr. Hill was actively involved in the Maryland Academy of Family Physicians and the American Academy of Family Physicians from 1964 to 2001.

While volunteering at the Maryland Academy of Family Physicians, he was its vice president and president.

He was on the board of directors at the American Academy of Family Physicians from 1989 to 1992, serving as its vice president from 1992 to 1993.

Dr. Hill served on the Maryland State Board of Medical Examiners from 1980 to 1988 and was the board’s president from 1984 to 1988.

In addition to his wife of 64 years and his daughter, survivors include three sons, Vince Hill of Indianapolis, Patrick Hill of Crofton and Stephen Hill of Salisbury; a sister, Jane Gray of Fulton; nine grandchildren; and two great-granddaughters.

A Mass of Christian Burial was offered June 9 at Our Lady of the Angels Chapel at Charlestown.

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