Dr. Maurice Van Besien, psychiatrist, dies

Dr. Maurice Van Besien was for many years a psychiatric consultant for Goucher College.

Dr. Maurice J. Van Besien Jr., a retired psychiatrist who practiced in Towson, died of Alzheimer’s disease Jan. 15 at The Oaks in Hoschton, Ga. He was 87 and had lived in Ruxton Crossing.

Born in New York City, he was the son of Maurice Jean Van Besien Sr., who worked in New York restaurants, and his wife, Marie-Louise. He was valedictorian of his class at the Bronx High School of Science and earned a bachelor’s degree at Columbia University. He was also a graduate of the Columbia University School of Medicine. He was a member of Phi Beta Kappa.


After completing service in the Army in 1957, Dr. Van Besien came to the Sheppard and Enoch Pratt Hospital to complete his psychiatric residency. He was later adolescent division director at Spring Grove Hospital and then established a private practice, first on Biddle Street in Mount Vernon and later in Towson at the Penthouse.

In 1965 he began studies at the Analytic Institute in Washington. D.C., and trained there for five years.


For many years he was a psychiatric consultant for Goucher College.

He was an amateur photographer and painter. He enjoyed sailing on Maryland rivers and the Chesapeake Bay.

In 2009 the Maryland Foundation for Psychiatry named him as one of a group of 19 distinguished psychiatrists of Maryland. He was interviewed for an oral history project to record his memories of his time in psychiatry.

After living in Baltimore, he retired to Georgia in 2010.

Services are private.

Survivors include two sons, Dr. Robert Van Besien of Lutherville and Stephen Van Besien of Scotch Plains, N.J.; a life partner, Carol Sweet of Baltimore; and four grandchildren. His wife of more than 50 years, Sue Bernstein, died in 2008.