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Obituaries

Dr. Lawrence Charles ‘Larry’ Pakula, a pediatrician and philanthropist who cared for children for more than 50 years, dies

Dr. Lawrence Charles “Larry” Pakula is a past president of the Maryland chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Dr. Lawrence Charles “Larry” Pakula, a pediatrician who established a morning calling hour to reassure the parents of sick children, died of cancer Nov. 2 at Gilchrist Center Towson. The Rockland resident was 89.

“He was patient, gentle and kind, the consummate pediatrician,” said a partner at his medical practice, Dr. Lauren L. Bogue. “He was also quietly philanthropic.”

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Dr. Bogue recalled an incident when she was a resident. Her family was convinced she had a brain tumor. “They ultimately felt so reassured by the very careful exam and history he took. I never forgot it,” she said.

She also said: “He was a pediatrician’s pediatrician. He had countless numbers of Hopkins faculty children as patients. He paid attention, and he listened to mothers — and fathers, too. He never dismissed what a parent was saying. He always listened.”

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Born in Kansas City, Missouri, and raised there, he was the son of Dr. Sidney Pakula, a pediatrician, and Dora Kaplan, the head docent at a Kansas City art museum.

The younger Dr. Pakula attended Beloit College and Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

Dr. Pakula followed in his father’s footsteps and became a pediatrician.

“My father and his brother, who also went on to become a pediatrician, went on those house calls with my grandfather,” said his daughter Dale Perreault.

“He worked long hours, and we, his children, would ride alongside with him as he would see these patients — or go to the hospital with him. It was fun,” his daughter also said.

He came to Baltimore and completed his residency at the Johns Hopkins Hospital. He then served two years in the Air Force Medical Corps in the Philippines.

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He returned to Baltimore to complete a postdoctoral fellowship in behavioral aspects of pediatrics and a postdoctoral fellowship in the Diagnostic and Evaluation Center, also at Hopkins.

“You almost never heard a child crying in his exam rooms. He was so reassuring. Children were never afraid of him,” Dr. Bogue said.

His daughter Baila Waldholtz said: “He called all his patients, boy or girl, Sam or Charlie. He’d say, ‘There’s turtles in your ears.’”

Dr. Pakula was an associate professor emeritus of pediatrics at Hopkins and a co-founder of Pavilion Pediatrics in Lutherville, where he was a practicing pediatrician.

He cared for children for more than 50 years.

“He had a well-established private practice,” said Ron Peterson, president emeritus of the Johns Hopkins Health System. “He was one of the go-to pediatricians in this region. He was a kind and generous and civil person. In a board room, we cherished his wisdom and welcomed his advice.”

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Dr. Pakula established a calling hour each morning from 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. The calls he received often concerned a child’s ability to attend school that day.

His daughters Baila and Dale recalled listening to him advise parents over breakfast, and they said it was especially reassuring when a child had had a bad night.

In a 1992 letter to The Sun, Dr. Pakula wrote: “Every day, 11 children and adolescents die because of firearms simply because they’re accessible. There is a handgun in one out of every four American homes. These guns too often find their way into the hands of children.”

"It’s time to acknowledge what pediatricians know, death by firearms is an American epidemic affecting our children,” he wrote, also urging readers to write to legislators.

Dr. Pakula served on the boards of what is now the Hospital for Consumptives of Maryland Foundation, the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center Council and the Robert Garrett Fund for the Surgical Treatment of Children.

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He was a past board president and board member of and donor to Mt. Washington Pediatric Hospital. In 2018, the hospital renamed its neonatal unit after him and his wife.

“He was a mentor and friend to me and to the entire team at Mt. Washington,” said Jill Feinberg, a Mt. Washington vice president. “He was a gracious and elegant host. He had a playful and personal relationship with everyone he knew.”

He is a past president of the Maryland chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Through a gift, Dr. Pakula and his wife created the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at the Johns Hopkins Children’s Hospital.

Survivors include three daughters, Baila Waldholtz of Virginia Beach, Virginia, Annette Pakula of Naples, Florida, and Dale Perreault of Orlando, Florida; a son, Louis H.S. Pakula of Baltimore; two brothers, Dr. Steve Pakula of Arizona and Jerry Pakula of Virginia; eight grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.

His wife, Sheila Sutland, a member of the Johns Hopkins Hospital Women’s Board and a trustee of the Park and Jemicy schools, died in 2016.

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Private funeral services for Dr. Pakula were held Nov. 4.


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