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Dr. Willard E. Standiford, retired pediatrician and teacher, dies

Dr. Willard E. Standiford taught and mentored aspiring medical professionals.
Dr. Willard E. Standiford taught and mentored aspiring medical professionals.

Dr. Willard E. “Will” Standiford, a retired pediatrician with a private practice in Catonsville and Columbia, died of stroke complications Tuesday at his home in Roland Park. He was 87.

Dr. Standiford practiced pediatrics in Baltimore and Howard counties for 50 years, from 1966 until his retirement in 2016 at age 82.

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With his partners George Bauernschub, Robert Irwin and Erney Maher, Dr. Standiford founded the Pediatric Center in Catonsville. Their practice later expanded and moved to Columbia.

Born John Willard Eagleston Standiford in Baltimore and raised in Aberdeen, he was the son of Isaac Willard Standiford, a pharmacist, and Lucy Eleanor Eagleston, a homemaker and amateur cellist.

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He was a 1952 graduate of Aberdeen High School and earned a bachelor’s degree at the Johns Hopkins University. After graduating magna cum laude from University of Maryland Medical School in 1960, he was a resident in radiology at the University of Maryland.

While a resident, he met his future wife, Natalie Elizabeth “Betty” Cusack, a nurse.

They married in 1961. Dr. Standiford served as a captain in the Air Force from 1962 to 1964 and was chief of radiology at Castle Air Force Base in Merced, California.

After his military service, he returned to Baltimore and changed his specialty to pediatrics. He settled in Catonsville before moving to Roland Park in 1975.

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Dr. Standiford was a clinical assistant professor in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Maryland from 1972 to 1982 and was senior attending physician at St. Agnes Hospital. He was also on the active staff of the Greater Baltimore Medical Center and a lecturer in the Department of Pediatrics at Johns Hopkins Hospital. He was also a longtime volunteer mentor in the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center’s Pediatric Residency and Clinical Clerkship Programs.

“Will was a master pediatrician,” said Julia McMillan, professor emerita in the Department of Pediatrics at Johns Hopkins. “He was kind and gentle and thoughtful while employing an unusual fund of knowledge in the care of each patient. Will was also a master teacher. At a weekly teaching conference, Will would listen quietly and then ask a particularly astute question that reflected his vast experience as well as his continued reading of current medical literature.”

Dr. Standiford led weekly “Standiford Rounds” for Johns Hopkins medical students and pediatric residents assigned to St. Agnes Hospital until two weeks before his death.

A daughter, Natalie Standiford of New York City, said her father taught by example.

“For many years, until his retirement, he invited pediatric residents to spend time working with him in his practice,” she said. “Every one of those residents left that experience with a better understanding of what it means to be the kind of pediatrician they aspired to be. He was a mentor, role model and friend for students and colleagues alike.”

She also said: “He was gentle and kind, was honest and had great integrity. He worked hard and enjoyed the simple things in life.”

He was elected to Alpha Omega Alpha, the honorary society for academic medicine, in 1958. St. Agnes Hospital honored him with the Founders Award in 2006 and he was named to the hospital’s Healing Hands Society in 2011.

“He did what was right for the patient first,” said Dr. Shahid Aziz, a former student of Dr. Standiford and medical director for MKids, a pediatric hospice services at Montgomery Hospice in Rockville. “Another admirable quality of Will was his generosity in sharing his wisdom, time and compassion. Many of us are better physicians and better persons because of him.”

In 2014, Johns Hopkins Hospital named him Teacher of the Year, awarding him the Volunteer Clinical Faculty Award from the Maryland Chapter of Alpha Omega Alpha.

Baltimore Magazine selected him as a Top Doctor in 2002, and in 2020 he received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Maryland Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Dr. Standiford was also an accomplished sailor. In the 1960s, he joined the Severn Sailing Association in Annapolis and sailed competitively there. He raced International 14s with his wife.

He raced internationally with the well known sailor Stuart Walker.

In later years, he and Betty cruised the Chesapeake in a Tartan 34.

“He loved water and wind, a good tomato or ear of corn, sailing, swimming, gardening, baking bread, making pancakes, his children and grandchildren, his wife, his pediatric practice, teaching, and the Orioles,” his daughter said. “He was also an inventor and holder of two patents.”

She said Dr. Standiford enjoyed bike rides around Lake Roland and used his mother’s recipes for raisin bread and rolls. He was an accomplished body surfer at Bethany Beach, Delaware.

Plans for a memorial service are incomplete.

In addition to his daughter and his wife of 60 years, a retired Maryland Public Television documentary music producer, survivors include another daughter, Kathleen Standiford of Homeland; two sons, John Standiford of Roland Park and James Standiford of Cross Keys; a brother, Harold Standiford of Homeland; and three grandchildren.

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