Dr. Silvino Butalid Muneses, an internal medicine physician who practiced in Brooklyn and Southwest Baltimore and was patriarch of his extended family, died of congestive heart failure Oct. 2 at his Glen Arm home. He was 86.
Born in the Philippines, he was the son of Ildefonso Muneses and his wife, Cecilia. The family owned a small grocery store where he worked as a boy.
“He was the fourth of 13 children, and the family lived in a poor section of the Philippines,” said his son, Jeffrey B. Muneses, a chiropractor who lives in Glenwood.
“His father wanted one of his children to get to the United States, and a lot of family effort was placed on getting my father educated,” he added. “He was the first person from his small town — Inabanga, Bohol — to come to the states, and once he was here, he sent money back to the family.”
After obtaining a degree from the University of Santo Tomas Medical School in the Philippines — where he was his class president — he settled in Baltimore in 1958 and performed his residency at the Johns Hopkins Hospital.
He studied diabetes and kidney diseases under Dr. Harriet Guild, founder of what became the Kidney Foundation of Maryland.
Dr. Muneses established two medical offices — one at Lombard and Poppleton streets in Southwest Baltimore and the other at Ritchie Highway and Potee Street in Brooklyn. He also saw patients at the old Provident and North Charles General hospitals. He lived in Rosedale and later Glen Arm.
In 1966 he joined the staff of what was then South Baltimore General Hospital, now MedStar Harbor Hospital. He remained on staff until 2017, when he retired.
“His practice was in a poor section of Baltimore and he wanted to take care of these people regardless of their ability to pay,” said his son. “He perfected the art of making house calls and was still making them for some patients until a few years ago.”
“My father worked long hours and would get home at 11 p.m. Then he’d say to me — when I was in bed — come and eat dinner with me,” his son recalled.
Dr. Muneses kept weekday walk-in office hours at his two medical offices. On the weekends, he often visited patients at local hospitals.
“I can remember him saying to me, ‘Why don’t you come along?’ And I would have to sit for hours at North Charles General as he made his rounds. Then maybe, for a treat, he’d take me to a pinball arcade,” his son said.
He also recalled how his father treated three disabled brothers who lived together in Southwest Baltimore.
“On Christmas Eve, he drove to their home, somehow got them in our small car and drove them to our home to join in the family celebration,” said his son. “The three brothers talked about the experience all year.”
Dr. Muneses told his family that many of his patients were looking for a sympathetic ear they could trust.
“He would take the time to listen to their stories,” his son said. “And years ago, even though he disapproved of smoking, he would even light up a cigarette with a patient who smoked — if he felt it would help that conversation and get them to talk.”
“Whenever he was in the physicians’ lounge or cafeteria, there would be a group of people around him,” said Dr. Larry Yap, director of neonatal care at MedStar Harbor Hospital. “There was a congenial side to him. People would open up with him. and I think it was because he had such a good sense of humor.”
Family members said that after Dr. Muneses settled in Baltimore, he financially assisted numerous family members from his former home.
“My uncle didn't wear a cape, but he was a superhero,” said Cecilia Muneses, a niece who lives in Wilmington, Del. “I am forever grateful that he sponsored and helped my family, all six of us, come to America. He invited us to live in his home for a long time so that we could have a better life. Never once did I feel unwelcome.”
“He taught me the importance of curiosity, hard work, and having fun,” she said. “He made me realize that true wealth is about laughter and being surrounded by the love of friends and family.”
Dr. Muneses was a member of Nativity Roman Catholic Church in Timonium.
A Mass for him was held Oct. 6 at Immaculate Conception Roman Catholic Church. A private memorial family gathering will be held Nov. 11.