Dr. John T. H. Johnson, an orthopedic surgeon, died April 3.
Dr. John T. H. Johnson, an orthopedic surgeon, died April 3. (HANDOUT)

Dr. John T.H. "Jerry" Johnson, a retired Baltimore orthopedic surgeon who was a partner in the Four East Madison Orthopedic Association, died April 3 in his sleep at Parkwood Shores, an assisted-living facility in St. Louis Park, Minn.

The former longtime Brooklandville resident was 94.


"Jerry was a man of many parts. He was a charming guy and intellectually superb. He was a polymath in many ways," said Dr. Kirby L.C. von Kessler, a retired Baltimore orthopedic surgeon and a longtime friend.

"He was a very bright and an extraordinarily capable man. He was a great orthopedic surgeon," Dr. von Kessler said. "After I completed my residency at Harvard, he asked me to come down in 1966 and join the practice that he had inherited from his father. It was a privilige to work with him, and they were great days."

The son of Dr. Robert W. Johnson, an orthopedist, and Rose Haxall Johnson, John Tripplett Haxel Johnson was born in Baltimore and raised on Midvale Road in Roland Park.

He attended Gilman School before enrolling at Kent School in Kent, Conn., from which he graduated in 1940.

He entered Princeton University but because of World War II, his time there was shortened. His training at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine was also accelerated because of the war.

"He was listed as a member of the Class of 1944 at Princeton," said a daughter, Anne Johnson of St. Paul, Minn.

After graduating from medical school in 1946, he completed an internship in general surgery and a residency in orthopedics at Hopkins.

He was married in 1946 to Eleanor "Ellie" Boyd of Philadelphia, who accompanied him during his service in the Army Medical Corps at Fort Sam Houston in Texas, and then was stationed at the Presidio in San Francisco.

While serving as a ship's doctor on an Army transport bringing war brides from the Philippines, Dr. Johnson, who had been trained as an orthopedic surgeon, was able to "successfully perform a shipboard appendectomy on a fellow Army officer," his daughter said.

Discharged from the Army in 1948, he joined his father, who was a partner in Bennett, Johnson and Eaton, which later became the Four East Madison Orthopedic Association.

The practice had been established in 1903 by Dr. William Stevenson Baer, a pioneering orthopedic surgeon at the Hopkins medical school, and Dr. Frederick Baetjer, Maryland's first radiologist.

The practice had an international clientele that included Eleanor Roosevelt, actress Billie Burke, Katharine Hepburn and Evalyn Walsh McLean, a mining heiress and the last private owner of the Hope Diamond.

"A highlight of his early orthopedic career was a medical exchange to London, Cambridge and Oxford, where the British Orthopedic Association hosted young orthopedic surgeons from the American Orthopedic Association," his daughter said.

For years, Dr. Johnson served as editor of the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery and also worked for CARE/MEDICO in Tunisia collaborating with and training orthopedic surgeons.


He practiced at Johns Hopkins Hospital, Greater Baltimore Medical Center, Union Memorial Hospital and the old Children's Hospital on Greenspring Avenue.

Dr. Johnson was also a part-time instructor in orthopedic surgery at Johns Hopkins and Union Memorial hospitals.

"Not only was he a great teacher, which was a very important part of his life, he also liked teaching about the pleasures of life. He played a significant teaching role at Hopkins and Union Memorial during the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s," Dr. von Kessler said.

"His patients liked him very much, and they appreciated his skills," he said. "Jerry was always on the cutting edge of orthopedic surgery and in both his practice and research. He also traveled extensively, giving lectures."

Dr. Johnson retired in 1989.

He and his wife were longtime residents of Brooklandville, settling at Rockland, a Falls Road farm that had been in the Johnson family since the late 1700s. They lived in a home they built on the property in 1953, and later downsized to a nearby barn they converted and named the Cupola House.

They were responsible for placing the property in trust for historical and environmental reasons, family members said.

Dr. Johnson, who was known as "Jerry," and his wife were bird-watchers and nature lovers, and both enjoyed serving as stewards of the land, family members said. Garden clubs visited their extensive daffodil gardens each spring.

After he retired, they spent winters in Sanibel, Fla., where they practiced xeriscaping, a form of gardening the employs the use of drought-tolerant plants and water conservation techniques.

They also were volunteers and financial supporters of the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation, and Dr. Johnson had been president of the Sanibel-Captiva Audubon Club.

For years, he and his wife participated in the annual Christmas bird count in both Maryland and Florida.

They left Rockland in 1999 and moved into Roland Park Place because of his wife's failing health. She died in 2003. In 2004, he married Pat Coles Dixon, who died in 2014.

Dr. Johnson and his wives were world travelers and had taken trips down the Amazon and visited the mountains of Rwanda to see that country's gorillas.

They also went on safaris in Kenya and Tanzania, and visited Turkey, Egypt, Morocco, Italy, New Zealand, Australia and Belize.

Dr. Johnson made a habit of recording impressions of his travels in letters as well as in detailed journals, family members said.

For the last two years, he had lived in St. Louis Park in order to be near his two daughters.

He was a member of the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd in Ruxton, where plans for a memorial service to be held there this summer are incomplete.

In addition to his daughter. Dr. Johnson is survived by a son, William Johnson of Santa Fe; another daughter, Polly Bayrd of Minnetonka, Minn.; a sister, Posey Randall of Philadelphia; seven grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren.