By By Frederick N. Rasmussen and The Baltimore Sun
May 21, 2013 at 5:47 PM
Dr. Richard J. Bouchard, a retired cardiologist who played an instrumental role in the establishment of the cardiac catheterization laboratory at St. Agnes Hospital, died Saturday from non-Hodgkin's lymphoma at Stella Maris Hospice. The longtime Timonium resident was 89.
The son of a railroad conductor and a homemaker, Richard Joseph Bouchard was born and raised in Ogdenburg, N.Y., where he graduated in 1946 from St. Mary's High School.
"His main interest was heart catheterization, and he was very good at it. His patients loved him and he was an extremely honorable man," said Dr. Ronald H. Gillilan, a semiretired cardiologist and director of the cardiac rehabilitation program at St. Agnes Hospital.
"He also loved to teach and had very good clinical judgment. He was clinical all the way and did not like administrative duties. He was just a delight to work with," said Dr. Gillilan, a friend for nearly 40 years.
"Dick was probably the best teacher I ever had. He had the ability to take the most difficult topic and could make you understand it," said Dr. Stephen J. Plantholt, a cardiologist who works at Maryland Cardiovascular Specialists at St. Agnes Hospital.
"During the last 30 or 40 years, Dick taught thousands of physicians cardiology and how to examine the heart and use their deductive reasoning to arrive at a treatment," said Dr. Plantholt. "He did this without fanfare. He was devoted to his patients and teaching. Those were his two passions."
After earning his bachelor's degree from Manhattan College in 1950, Dr. Bouchard entered Yale University Medical School, where he earned his medical degree in 1954.
Dr. Bouchard completed an internship in internal medicine in 1955 at the University of California San Francisco General Hospital, and three years later, a residency in internal medicine at the U.S. Public Health Service Hospital, also in San Francisco.
From 1963 to 1964, he completed a fellowship in internal medicine at the University of Maryland Medical School.
He returned to the West Coast, where he completed a cardiology fellowship in 1970 with the internationally known cardiologist Dr. Eugene Braunwald at the University of California, San Diego.
Dr. Bouchard began his medical career in 1960 as assistant chief of medicine at the U.S. Public Health Service Hospital in New Orleans, and from 1963 to 1965 was an instructor in medicine at Tulane University.
He was deputy chief of medicine at the public health hospital in New Orleans from 1965 to 1969, and was associate chief of medicine from 1970 to 1971. That year, he was named assistant chief of the clinical investigations department at the old U.S. Public Health Services Marine Hospital in Wyman Park.
At the Wyman Park hospital, he established a heart laboratory and cardiac catheterization laboratory. When medical services ended at the hospital, he joined the staff at St. Agnes Hospital as associate chief of cardiology and established and served as director of the cardiac catheterization laboratory.
From 1989 until 2012, Dr. Bouchard served on the board of the St. Agnes Cardiac Diagnostic Center.
"He was known for his work at Wyman Park, and his opinions were accepted throughout the cardiac community," said Dr. Raymond D. Bahr, a retired St. Agnes cardiologist and longtime friend.
"We would do catheterizations in the morning and then we would sit down and go over the results and discuss how we were going to treat the patient," Dr. Bahr said. "He had common sense, was down-to-earth and easy to get along with. He was a very compassionate man. And when I had difficult cases, he was always willing to sit down and discuss them."
Dr. Plantholt described Dr. Bouchard as "laid-back."
"He was friendly, easy to talk to, but he wasn't a gregarious person. His door was always open and [he was] happy to help you," Dr. Plantholt said. "He wanted to make sure you understood the issues, so he was always available."
Dr. James H. Gault, a retired cardiologist, got to know Dr. Bouchard in the 1960s at the National Heart Institute in Bethesda.
"Dick was an excellent cardiologist, and he'll be remembered for being an exceptional human being and for his humanity," said Dr. Gault. "He was not only engaged with the patient but with all who worked with him. He was a very steadying influence."
Marie V. McGinn worked as a technician at St. Agnes for 32 years before retiring in 2011.
"Working with Dr. Bouchard was absolutely wonderful. He was caring, loving and always open to questions. He always had time for you," Ms. McGinn said. "He treated everyone equally and made you feel important and that your job was significant. He so enriched my life."
Dr. Bouchard was still coming to work, where he administered stress tests, until about six months ago, Dr. Gillilan said.
"Dick lived in a world of consequences and choices. He had no talent for indifference," said Dr. Gault. "His death is a great loss for us."
Dr. Bouchard was a fellow of the American College of Physicians and the American College of Cardiology. He was a member of the American Medical Association, the Commissioned Officers Association, the U.S. Public Health Service and the Maryland Heart Association.
The Morning Sun Newsletter
Get your morning news in your e-mail inbox. Get all the top news and sports from the baltimoresun.com.