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Dr. Mutlu Urcun Atagun was a former assistant chief of the Tuberculosis Division of the old Baltimore City Hospitals.
Dr. Mutlu Urcun Atagun was a former assistant chief of the Tuberculosis Division of the old Baltimore City Hospitals. (HANDOUT)

Dr. Mutlu Urcun Atagun, former assistant chief of the tuberculosis division of the old Baltimore City Hospitals, died of a heart attack April 28 at Mercy Medical Center.

The Roland Park resident was 89.

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Born in Turkey near the Russian border, she was the daughter of Riza Urcun, a general in the Turkish Army, and Medine Urcun. She was admitted to Istanbul University Medical School without taking an examination because she had exceptionally high grades in high school, family members said. She graduated in 1950.

When she came to the U.S. in 1952, she spoke no English.

"After World War II there was a need for doctors in the U.S. My mother asked a friend to write a letter for her, which she sent on a lark to American hospitals," said her daughter, Dr. Mehtap Aygun, also of Roland Park.

She served an internship at Fall River General Hospital in Massachusetts and completed her medical residency at Ann Arbor General Hospital in Michigan.

"She spent her first year in Fall River, living in the hospital, on duty 24 hours a day," she said. "My mother knew French, and the French-Canadian nurses there helped her. She was intelligent, and after her first year she had no trouble."

She moved to Baltimore and worked at Baltimore City Hospitals, now Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, as assistant chief of the tuberculosis division. She also served in the Baltimore Health Department chest clinics.

Dr. Atagun was also an internist for patients at Crownsville State Hospital.

She maintained a private practice on West Rogers Avenue near Park Heights Avenue in Northwest Baltimore.

She retired nearly 30 years ago.

Her daughter said Dr. Atagun held a first Saturday open house for decades, at which she served the Turkish dishes she prepared.

She was a founding member of the Maryland American Turkish Association, the Washington Turkish Women's Association and the American Turkish Association. She was also active in Turkish Children's Foster Care.

"She was a guide and mentor for Turkish women professionals," her daughter said. "Her name meant 'happy' in Turkish, and she was admired for her cheerful, positive attitude and extraordinary curiosity and zest for life."

She also said Dr. Atagun was an admirer of the founder of Turkish democracy, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, and was a member of the Washington-based Ataturk Society of America.

Burial was April 29 at Druid Ridge Cemetery.

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In addition to her daughter, survivors include a son, Mert Atagun of Turkey; four grandchildren; and a great-granddaughter. Her husband of 63 years, Munir Atagun, died in 2014.

—Jacques Kelly

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