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Dr. John F. Strahan, a retired Baltimore dermatologist who practiced for more than half a century, died July 12 of pneumonia at his Lutherville home. He was 94.
“Dr. Jack Strahan was truly an inspirational teacher for the Johns Hopkins dermatology residents and medical students. For a few decades he gave his time and resources to train future leaders in our field,” wrote Dr. Sewon Kang, a Canton resident who is chief of dermatology at Hopkins, in an email.
“He was also most generous and established an endowed lectureship bearing his name so that we can invite yearly, a prominent academic leader to Johns Hopkins to learn from,” he wrote. “Until last year, he regularly attended the lectureship and provided astute observations on various topics being presented. He was most highly respected by his colleagues and students, and will be sorely missed.”
“He was the kind of person I grew up with,” said Dr. Bernard “Buddy” Cohen, who was one of Dr. Strahan’s residents at Hopkins, and is now chief of pediatric dermatology at Hopkins.
“I first met him when I was in pediatrics, and then when I moved over to dermatology,” the Stevenson resident said. “He was the kind of guy who took students under his wing. He was one of those people you could call day or night if you had a personal problem or an academic problem.”
John Franklin Strahan, son of Charles Strahan, manager of the Crown, Cork & Seal repair shop, and his wife, Ethel Virginia Fisher, a Catonsville High School Latin and math teacher, was born at home on Walker Avenue in Anneslie and in 1926 moved with his family to a home on Hubner Avenue in Catonsville.
Dr. Strahan became an Eagle Scout when he was 16, and was 17 when he graduated in 1943 from Catonsville High School.
Because of World War II, he applied to and was accepted into the Navy’s V-12 program at Duke University, where he studied from 1943 to 1945, and served as a corpsman at Camp Lejeune during the summer of 1945.
Even though Dr. Strahan did not obtain a bachelor’s degree at Duke, he was accepted at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, from which he earned his medical degree in 1949. Between 1949 and 1951, Dr. Strahan completed a rotating internship and residency at what is now the University of Maryland Medical Center.
One week after completing medical school, he married the former Jean Eickelberg, whom he began dating in the ninth grade, and intermittently until “the relationship became more serious,” said a daughter, Dr. Nancy V. Strahan, a Roland Park resident.
He was called to active duty during the Korean War and was transferred to the Bethesda Naval Hospital in 1951, and was sent later that year to the Marine base at Parris Island, South Carolina, where he was a base physician caring for new recruits.
Discharged in 1953, he spent one additional year of residency at Maryland from 1953 to 1954, and from 1954 to 1955 he did a subspecialty in dermatology training at the University of Pennsylvania.
In 1955, Dr. Strahan was appointed the first chief resident in dermatology at the University of Maryland, a position he held for a year before going into private practice with Dr. Harry Robinson, one of the first practicing dermatologists in Baltimore.
A year later, he established a solo practice at 1117 St. Paul St. in Mid-Town Belvedere, and had satellite offices in Havre de Grace and Glen Burnie. He later moved to the Latrobe Building, where he was joined by Dr. William J.R. Dunseath, with whom he practiced for more than two decades.
Dr. Strahan moved to the Professional Building at the University of Maryland St. Joseph Medical Center in Towson, where he continued practicing until retiring in 2008.
He was an instructor in dermatology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine from 1956 to 1965, and was an instructor in medicine, also at Maryland, from 1956 to 1965.
He was an assistant professor of medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine from 1965 to 2005, and ran the dermatology clinic training residents weekly from 1961 until 2008.
“He was an incredible teacher and mentor and a person we all felt comfortable with. He was one of those go-to-people,” Dr. Cohen said. “There was not much of an academic dermatology program at Hopkins at the time and despite his busy practice, he helped develop it.”
His daughter wrote in a biographical profile of her father: “Known for his interest in the total patient, he would listen for a long time to his patients’ problems even if they were just there for a rash or warts. Consequently, he was always two hours behind schedule. Most patients did not seem to mind and those that did went elsewhere. He had a great sense of humor and was always ready for a joke.”
After seeing 40 or 50 patients a day for four or five days a week for more than 50 years, Dr. Strahan developed quite a following, which often resulted in taking him 15 minutes to reach his table in a restaurant, slowed by greeting patients.
“My sisters and I joked that when he died we’d have to rent out the Royal Farms Arena for his memorial service,” his daughter wrote.
His professional associations included the Maryland Dermatological Society, of which he was president from 1971 to 1972; a member of the board of governors of the Baltimore County Medical Society from 1984 to 1988; a board member of Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Maryland from 1980 to 1994; and a board member of the Governor’s Committee for Employment of the handicapped from 1963 to 1988.
From 1988 to 1998, he was also a member of the Board of Physicians Quality Assurance of Maryland and a member of the Federation of State of Maryland Boards Nominating Committee from 1990 to 1992.
In recognition of his work at Hopkins, friends and colleagues established the John F. Strahan M.D. Lectureship in 2004.
Only equaled in his passion for medicine was Dr. Strahan’s passion for golf, a game he learned during his days at Parris Island in the early 1950s, and by the 1960s was “hooked,” his daughter said, reducing his wife to a “golf widow.”
To be on the links almost every day by 2 p.m., Dr. Strahan started seeing patients at 6:15 a.m., and often played 18 holes of golf after work in the summertime.
His daughter said her father had an “impressive long ball” and won many club championships, including the Baltimore Country Club’s senior club championship and member-guest tournaments.
Dr. Strahan played many of the famous golf courses around the country and the world, including Pebble Beach in California and St Andrews in Scotland.
“He hit a hole-in-one while playing in Ireland after a transatlantic flight and without much sleep,” his daughter wrote in the biographical profile.
Despite health issues in recent years for which he used a wheelchair, Dr. Strahan tried to maintain a vigorous social life and most Tuesday evenings dined with the Romeos — “Retired Old Men Eating Out.”
He was a member of Grace United Methodist Church, where plans for a memorial service are incomplete because of the pandemic.
In addition to his daughter, Dr. Strahan is survived by his wife of 15 years, Margaret Mohler Strahan, a Ph.D.; two other daughters, Susan T. Strahan of Guilford and Sally S. Matthews of Atlanta; three stepsons, Thomas Mohler of Catonsville, William Mohler of Elkridge and Robert Mohler of Burbank, California; four grandchildren; and 11 step-grandchildren. His first wife died in 1983, and a second marriage to Robin Coblentz ended in divorce. Another stepson, Dr. Emile Mohler, died in 2017.
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