Dr. Samuel McC. M. Lumpkin, a retired otolaryngologist who was a partner in Ear, Nose & Throat Associates at Greater Baltimore Medical Center, died March 10 at his White Hall farm of complications from Rocky Mountain spotted fever. He was 83.
"Sam helped tens of thousands of people during his career," said Dr. Karl W. Diehm, an otolaryngologist who had been Dr. Lumpkin's partner since 1982.
"He was a wonderful doctor in every way. He was honest and an excellent surgeon. He had a fine medical pedigree and came from a family of physicians," said Dr. Diehm. "In many ways, he was a throwback to the old country doctor."
The son of Dr. Morgan Leroy Lumpkin, an otolaryngologist, and George McComb Lumpkin, a homemaker, Samuel McComb Morgan Lumpkin was born in Baltimore and raised on Greenway in Guilford.
After graduating from Gilman School in 1950, he earned his bachelor's degree from Princeton University in 1954 and his medical degree in 1958 from the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. He completed a residency in otolaryngology at Johns Hopkins Hospital.
After serving as an otolaryngologist in the Army Medical Corps in Frankfurt, Germany, where he served for three years and attained the rank of captain, Dr. Lumpkin returned to Baltimore in 1965 and went into private practice with an office on Biddle Street.
In 1967, he joined Dr. George C. Aldeman, and the two otolaryngologists established Ear, Nose & Throat Associates and moved their practice to 6301 N. Charles St. Since 1988, their practice has been located at Greater Baltimore Medical Center.
"Our professional relationship was ideal. And for all the years we were together, we never had anything that verged on an argument," said Dr. Aldeman, who had gotten to know Dr. Lumpkin during their residencies. "I had a great deal of respect for him professionally, and we remained lifelong friends."
Dr. Diehm said Dr. Lumpkin had many skills, including putting patients at ease and his surgical ability in the operating room.
"He liked to talk to people and would not talk to them in doctor's speak but would put things in layman's terms so they could understand their condition," said Dr. Diehm.
Because of his affability and friendly, outgoing nature, many of his patients became lifelong friends.
"He had a great sense of control. Some doctors panic at the sight of an emergency but not Sam. He was always as cool as could be," said Dr. Diehm.
"He was also an excellent and dedicated surgeon who could do a tonsillectomy in 15 minutes while it would take others 45 minutes to an hour. He was just that skilled. His tonsillectomies were artistic," he said.
"If a patient was having difficulties such as breathing, he'd spend the night in the hospital sitting with them. He was their advocate. He was always an advocate for all of his patients," said Dr. Diehm.
"In order to accommodate people, he'd do tonsillectomies on Saturday mornings and then be on the Eastern Shore duck shooting in the afternoon. He loved the Eastern Shore," he said.
While Dr. Lumpkin liked to project the air of an old-fashioned country doctor, he was described by Dr. Diehm as "a visionary who embraced new technology."
Dr. Lumpkin became interested in a medical condition known as spastic dysphonia, which is the result of involuntary and uncontrollable spasms of the vocal cords. It can leave patients voiceless or with garbled speech.
The technique used for a temporary cure is the result of small amounts of botulinum toxin — more commonly known as Botox — injected through the neck into the laryngeal muscle on each side of the larynx, more commonly known as the "voice box."
Two days after the injection, the patient's vocal cords become paralyzed and within a week or two, the normal voice returns.
"If you can find your voice, I think that's pretty exciting," said Dr. Lumpkin, who explained the procedure in a 1991 article in The Baltimore Sun. "It is very important to give these injections very precisely, so an EMG [electromyography] machine is used to guide the injections into the proper muscle."
GBMC was the first hospital in the Baltimore area to offer the nonsurgical procedure, said Dr. Diehm.
"Sam did them on Sundays and people would come as far away as Mexico for them," said Dr. Diehm. "It was cutting edge and helped an awful lot of people."
"Opera singers and actors nearing a performance would get nervous if they had a voice problem and would come and see Sam," said Dr. Diehm. "He cared for many famous performers."
Dr. Lumpkin was a voice consultant to the Baltimore Opera Company, Morris Mechanic Theater and Center Stage.
Dr. Lumpkin retired in 2007.
For 12 years, he volunteered at Gilchrist Hospice Care in Towson with his therapy dog, Remington.
Dr. Lumpkin had lived on three farms during his adult life, Windswept Farm in Sparks and Fox Briar Farm in Glyndon, and his final farm in White Hall, where he was living at his death. He was an organic gardener and beekeeper.
He was a gourmet cook and wine connoisseur, and enjoyed spending summers on Nantucket, where he liked to fish.
Dr. Lumpkin was a past member of the Bachelors Cotillon and the Wroton Island Club.
Dr. Lumpkin was a member of St. John's Episcopal Church, 3738 Butler Road, Glyndon, where a memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. March 27.
He is survived by his wife of 28 years, the former Sandra Gill, a speech pathologist; a daughter, Tara Waters Lumpkin of Taos; two stepdaughters, Jill Woodward of Guilford and J. Cheri Artisan of Wilmington, N.C.; and six step-grandchildren. Another daughter, Alice Seney Waters Lumpkin, died in 2014. An earlier marriage to the former Barbara Seney Waters ended in divorce.