Dr. Franklin Earl Leslie, a retired internist, dies at 106

In his retirement, Dr. Franklin Earl Leslie joined Union Memorial Hospital physicians to treat uninsured patients.

Dr. Franklin Earl Leslie, a retired internist who believed in exercise and a low-fat diet, died of an infection last Wednesday at Gilchrist Center Towson. He was 106 and lived on Hampton Lane in Towson.

Born in Buffalo, New York, he was the son of Earl James Leslie, a dentist, and Grace Hoehn, a homemaker. The family later moved to Baltimore and he grew up in Towson on Linden Terrace.


“As a child, my father looked like a Norman Rockwell character with his big smile and plenty of freckles,” said his daughter Sharon Bowyer. “His hair was wayward.”

He attended Lida Lee Tall School and was a 1934 Towson High School graduate. He earned a degree at St. John’s College and was a member of the University of Maryland Medical School class of 1941.


He had an internship at the old Hospital for the Women of Maryland in Bolton Hill.

“He delivered 21 babies as an intern and also contracted tuberculosis,” said another daughter, Katherine Leslie.

Dr. Leslie did a residency at Union Memorial Hospital and soon joined the practice of Dr. Walter Baetjer, the hospital’s chief physician.

“My father was thrilled when he heard through the grapevine that a nurse, Mazie Mullinix of Damascus, thought he was rather special,” Sharon said.

They eloped to Washington, D.C., and married in secret because the hospital had a rule that student nurses could not marry. The rule was soon changed.

“Then my mother was out of hot water,” Sharon said. “The head of nursing still reprimanded, ‘This is very bad business.’”

After seven years with Dr. Baetjer, Dr. Leslie established a private practice at Calvert and 33rd streets opposite the hospital. He later had his office in the Marylander Apartments.

“He was a researcher by nature. He kept up on the latest in the field of medicine,” Katherine said. “While driving from Union Memorial to Greater Baltimore Medical Center daily, he would listen to medical tapes about heart health care.”


She said he learned of medical treatments in Philadelphia not yet available in Baltimore and he would send patients there.

“He often would return to the hospital after dinner to check in one more time with his sickest patients to make sure they were faring just as he had hoped,” Katherine said. “House calls came usually in the morning, when he was taking us to school.”

Dr. Leslie also discovered jogging.

“One day my father noticed his next-door neighbor, Dr. Alfred Starrett, the pastor of Emmanuel Episcopal Church, running up the street,” Sharon said.

“Dad ran to see if he was all right because no one just ran up the street to just be doing that for no apparent reason,” she said. “Dr. Starrett had been a missionary in China where he said people were doing this all the time and [it] was called jogging.”

She said her father began jogging the next day and followed discreetly behind Dr. Starrett to make sure he really had understood what his teacher was doing.


He jogged daily for an hour and loved the runner’s high, his daughter said.

“He hung up his [running] shoes at 99,” Sharon said. “At the end, I asked him if he had totally given up jogging. He said he hesitated to call it jogging because people were walking past him.”

Dr. Leslie played tennis until he was 98 years old and then his doubles partner told him that she just could not play another year.

After attending a medical meeting at Harvard University that focused on longevity patterns in Korea, he changed his diet.

He excluded butter, whole milk, gravy, bacon, eggs and excessive red meat.

He retired at age 72.


He then volunteered at Shepherd’s Clinic on North Avenue at St. Paul Street. He joined fellow Union Memorial Hospital physicians to treat uninsured patients.

“The patients loved the clinic,” Sharon said. “My father volunteered for years and liked the experience. He liked doing something with no medical finances involved.”

In 2000, he and his wife moved to the Blakehurst Retirement Community.

“Many of his former patients and tennis buddies ended up at Blakehurst with him,” Sharon said. “And at the end, in his wheelchair, he did his exercise by moving it up and down a hill.”

Dr. Leslie was a member of the Rush Society at the University of Maryland Medical School, Baltimore Country Club, Valley Investors of Towson, Rotary Club of Towson, Homeland Racquet Club and Cross Keys Tennis Club.

His wife, Mazie Mullinix, a former Union Memorial Hospital nurse, died in 2005.


Survivors include two daughters, Sharon Bowyer of Manchester and Katherine Leslie of Sparks; three granddaughters; and five great-grandchildren. A daughter, Elizabeth Hebb, died in 2018.

Services are private.