Theodore E. Woodward, '38
1914 - 2005

Jonathon with dog Marty

For many of us, Dr. Woodward embodied the academic and philosophical essence of the University of Maryland School of Medicine. For more than four decades, he was the personification of our school—the one person colleagues invariably asked us about when they learned we came from the University of Maryland. Few academic institutions were as blessed as we with the good fortune of having a native son rise to such prominence, while devoting his professional life so completely to the betterment of his alma mater.

W oodward was born in Westminster, Maryland on March 22, 1914. As a youngster, accompanying his father on house calls ignited a spark that would become a life-long passion for medicine. His journey into the profession took him from Westminster High School to Franklin and Marshall College (where he lettered in five sports) to our school, where he graduated in 1938 with both a medical diploma and the hand in marriage of his classmate, Celeste C. Lauve.

Theodore E. Woodward, '38

During World War II, Woodward served in the Army Medical Corps, first in Bermuda and Jamaica investigating outbreaks of dengue fever and rickettsioses and then in North Africa, where he worked closely with Pasteur Institute scientists on epidemics of typhus in Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia. Later he served as a member of the Typhus Commission in Italy, Aden, England, France and the Pacific theater. As a result of these experiences, he was appointed to the Armed Forces Epidemiological Board, over which he presided as president from 1976 to 1978 and 1980 to 1992. He also served for many years on the advisory committee of the U.S.-Japan Cooperative Science Program.

Woodward’s research, first in the Army and then for another four decades at the University of Maryland, laid the foundation for modern concepts of the epidemiology, immunology and treatment of typhus, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, typhoid fever, brucellosis, tularemia, cholera and bacterial meningitis. He was much honored for his work, receiving the U.S. Typhus Commission Medal (from President Roosevelt) in 1945, the Louis Pasteur Medal in 1961, the U.S. Army’s Outstanding Civilian Service Award in 1973, the Sir Spenser Lister Medal of the South African Institute for Medical Research in 1982, a special citation and award from the Japanese Ministry of Health in 1985, a commendation from the U.S. Department of Defense for exceptionally distinguished service (presented by Secretary Dick Cheney) in 1989, the Order of the Sacred Treasure, Gold and Silver Star of Japan in 1990, and, the Department of Defense Medal for Distinguished Service (with two oak leaf clusters) and the Order of Military Medical Merit in 1992.

Woodward returned to the University of Maryland in 1948 and established one of the world’s first divisions of infectious diseases, which he nurtured into one of the largest and most productive anywhere. He was instrumental in the creation of the SEATO Cholera Research Laboratory (forerunner of the International Center for Diarrheal Research) in Bangladesh and a NIH-funded International Center for Medical Research and Training in Lahore, Pakistan. He was a founding member of the Infectious Diseases Society of America and served as its 14th president. In 1991, he received the society’s Bristol Award.

In 1954, Woodward replaced his academic mentor, Dr. Maurice C. Pincoffs, as chairman of the department of medicine. In many respects, this was the position from which he made his most important and far-reaching contributions to the medical profession. During 27 years as chairman, he was for many of the more than 10,000 students and thousands more residents whose lives he touched the “compleat” physician they aspired to be. In recognition of his contributions as mentor and role model, the American College of Physicians honored Woodward with its distinguished teacher award in 1992; the AMA did so with its distinguished service award in 1995; and the Houston Academy of Medicine presented him with its John P. McGovern Compleat Physician Award in 1997.

Theodore E. Woodward, '38

As chairman, Woodward’s philosophy, was “to do what seemed best for his school, not simply for his department.” He placed great emphasis on clinical care and instruction, insisting that every member of his faculty teach physical diagnosis, as he did, believing it to be one of a medical school’s most important courses. Throughout his busy career and his equally busy retirement he also practiced his art continually as personal physician to a host of grateful patients.

Hunting with a grandson

Woodward stepped down as chairman of medicine in 1981 but never actually retired. Until late into his 80s, when failing health would confine him to his home, he traveled to his office daily to see patients, to teach physical diagnosis, to lead a weekly conference for junior medical students and to serve as a ward attending two months each year. He accomplished a great deal in his career for which physicians and patients around the world have much to be grateful. However, he will be remembered for his character and the type of man he was, more than for what he accomplished as a medical investigator, teacher or administrator. The depth of devotion he generated among those whose lives he touched with his uncommon generosity is reflected by the many awards he received from grateful organizations, as well as by the welter of lectures, rooms and such named in his honor. Here at Maryland there is the annual AOA Theodore E. Woodward Lecture, the Theodore E. Woodward Chair in Internal Medicine, the Theodore E. Woodward Award for Excellence in Internal Medicine, the Theodore E. Woodward Medicine Conference Room and the Theodore E. Woodward Historical Suite in the Health Sciences and Human Services Library. The Baltimore VA Medical Center has its Theodore E. Woodward Library, the Gilman School its Woodward Health Center and the Maryland Medical & Chirurgical Faculty its Theodore E. Woodward Annual Lecture on the History of Medicine. There is also a Theodore E. Woodward lecture series hosted by the Navy Environmental Health Center since 1992 and a Theodore E. Woodward Award established by the American Clinical and Climatological Association in 1994. And there were the honorary D.Sc. degrees conferred on him by the University of Maryland, Western Maryland College (now McDaniel College), Franklin and Marshall College and Hahnemann University.

In one of many addresses to graduating students at the University of Maryland, Woodward said: “My rich blessings are Celeste and a dear family, the confidence of friends and the privilege of having been in a position to try and help someone.” By any measure, he indeed was blessed with a remarkable and loving family. His wife, Celeste, an accomplished physician in her own right, was a full partner in each of his many successes. His three surviving children, Bill, Craig and Celeste, ’72, are likewise, each prominent physicians who were for him a source of great pride. Woodward held many important positions which he used tirelessly to help others, and in addition to his family, he was blessed with an enormous intellect and an extraordinarily productive career. Nevertheless, he will be remembered most not for what he had, but for what he gave.

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