Julia W. ‘Judy’ Buchanan worked in nuclear medicine at Johns Hopkins Hospital.
Julia W. ‘Judy’ Buchanan worked in nuclear medicine at Johns Hopkins Hospital. (handout)

Julia W. “Judy” Buchanan, a retired medical book editor who enjoyed gardening and attending the theater and symphony, died Wednesday of an aortic aneurysm at her home in the Orchards neighborhood of North Baltimore. She was 81.

The former Julia Watts, the daughter of Karl G. Watts, a businessman and an owner of a frozen food company, and his wife, Julia D. Watts, a schoolteacher and later a stay-at-home parent, was born and raised in Huntington, West Virginia.


She was a 1955 graduate of the National Cathedral School in Washington and earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry in 1959 from Sweet Briar College in Sweet Briar, Virginia.

Interested in medical research, Mrs. Buchanan came to the Johns Hopkins Hospital in 1959, where her first job was in nuclear medicine, then an emerging specialty, working in the lab performing experiments related to radiopharmaceutical development.

Known as “Judy,” Mrs. Buchanan spent 40 years working with Dr. Henry N. Wagner Jr., a pioneer in nuclear medicine, whose textbook, “Principles of Nuclear Medicine,” she co-edited through two editions.

Mrs. Buchanan later spent her time editing faculty grant proposals, manuscripts and papers that were presented at annual meetings of the Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging, and for more than three decades, she organized the annual nuclear medicine continuing medical education course.

“Judy has contributed immeasurably to the Division having helped countless faculty, trainees and visiting scholars in addition to generating her own scholarly work in nuclear medicine,” Dr. Martin Pomper, current director of the Nuclear Medicine Division, explained in a biographical profile of Mrs. Buchanan.

She retired in 2017.

Mrs. Buchanan was an inveterate gardener and had been a season ticket holder at Center Stage and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. Known for her Southern cooking, she enjoyed entertaining family and friends.

She also enjoyed annual family vacations to Squam Lake in New Hampshire.

Mrs. Buchanan was a member of the Mount Vernon Club, The Elkridge Club and the Maryland Historical Society.

Her husband of 24 years, Charles M. Buchanan, vice president and an investment analyst for United States Fidelity and Guaranty Co., died in 1987.

She was a communicant of the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer, where she was a member of its altar guild.

A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Nov. 2 at her church, 5603 N. Charles St.

Mrs. Buchanan is survived by two sons, William M. Buchanan of Bethesda and John S. Buchanan of Jackson Hole, Wyoming; a daughter, Julia B. Salovaara of the Orchards; a brother, W. Dickinson Watts of Marietta, Ohio; and three grandchildren.