Jerome “Jerry” Hantman, Howard County General Hospital’s first cardiologist who grew his private practice into an advanced cardiology facility, died March 28 from the progression of Parkinson’s disease at his Columbia home. He was 80.
“He always loved his profession. He would leave work and hear a siren and turn back and go to the hospital. He loved it. His mind was so active. He was such a problem solver and so insightful,” said Irene Saunders Goldstein Hantman, his wife.
Dr. Hantman started his private practice, Cardiovascular Specialists of Central Maryland, in 1975 in a building on the grounds of Howard County General Hospital and was appointed to staff the hospital as its first cardiologist the same year. He later served as chairman of medicine for 18 years and cardiology section chief for 30 years.
Dr. Michael Silverman, a longtime colleague and succeeded Dr. Hantman in leading Cardiovascular Specialists of Central Maryland, said Dr. Hantman’s natural leadership skills made him renowned in the local medical community.
“Whatever time the patient needed he gave it to them. It is almost unheard of now for a physician to bring patients back to their office to go over their findings. And Jerry did that for every single patient,” Dr. Silverman said.
Dr. Hantman was also a huge advocate for physician colleagues, ensuring their concerns and needs were heard by the hospital administration, Dr. Silverman said. He had very high standards for patient care and insisted the hospital have the most up-to-date technology, even accompanying nurses tasked with purchasing new medical equipment.
“He was in cardiology in a unique time because all of these modalities that all of us take for granted were all just coming out. They didn’t exist. So he brought echocardiography to the hospital; he brought nuclear cardiology to the hospital; he brought cardiac catheterization to the hospital. He just sowed the seeds for a forest that is now miles high,” Dr. Silverman said.
Dr. Hantman was born Jan. 18, 1942, to Louis Hantman, a coat manufacturer, and Eve Kurtzman Hantman, a Hebrew school teacher, in Neptune, New Jersey. He grew up in Freehold, New Jersey, and attended Brandeis University, where he played tennis on the school’s team. Dr. Hantman was left-handed and known for his wicked serve. His mother demanded that he study medicine, a command that he was grateful for when he fell in love with the subject.
Dr. Hantman left Brandeis University in three years and studied at Tufts University School of Medicine. He graduated in 1966 and later earned a master’s degree in medical management from Carnegie Mellon University. He served his medical residency in Boston. Dr. Hantman then joined the U.S. Air Force as a flight surgeon. He didn’t see much action stateside, however, and would spend his time flying to compete in tennis tournaments and coaching a little league baseball team.
He married the late Sue-Ellen Wolfson Beck in 1969 and had three children: David, now of Arlington, Virginia, was born in 1969; Joshua, of Los Angeles, was born in 1973; and Deborah, of Columbia, was born in 1975.
The family moved to Columbia and started his medical practice with physicians Tom Mclean, Bill Parnes and Steve Valenti. Dr. Hantman ensured the practice joined forces with academic medical centers, such as a partnership with Johns Hopkins Hospital in 2010. He also directed the cardiology department at Doctors Community Hospital in Lanham.
Although Dr. Hantman’s calm demeanor made him appear stoic and serious, he was actually quite funny, those who know him say.
“He had a great sense of humor,” said Dr. Valenti, a cardiologist and longtime colleague. “And that could take people by surprise. He had a dry sense of humor. Out of this serious look that he oftentimes had on his face he would say something just out of the blue that was funny.”
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As a father, Dr. Hantman never yelled. He was a great listener to his patients, dinner party guests, fellow committee members and his children. He would sit quietly until the end of a conversation and then summarize the key points before getting a group to agree on a solution or topic, his wife, Irene, said.
“I think what made him a great doctor is the same thing that made him a great dad, and everyone experienced the same from him, which is he actually listened to you,” said David Hantman, his son. “You would tell him your problem and he would listen to what was and he would try and solve it. And it was true for his patients. It was true for his friends.”
Dr. Hantman also volunteered at free heart clinics in Howard County and would waive the cost of appointments for patients who could not afford medical care. He retired in 2014 after his Parkinson’s disease took away his ability to practice medicine.
He was a lifelong learner and adventurer, picking up new hobbies such as astronomy, sailing, model train building, golfing and skiing. Dr. Hantman participated in activities with the Jewish community, held Passover Seder dinners, and met his wife Irene at a Jewish genealogy conference in Las Angeles.
“He was a good man,” Mrs. Hantman said.
Services were held at Temple Isaiah in Fulton on March 30.
In addition to his wife, sons and his daughter, he is survived by his brother, Arnold Hantman, of Tallahassee, Florida, and sister, Carol Leaman, of Pittsburgh. An earlier marriage to the late Sue-Ellen Wolfson Beck ended in divorce. He is also survived by his stepson, Eric Goldstein, and grandchildren Emma Hantman and Addison and Annemarie Goldstein, along with many nephews and nieces.