Baltimore Sun Sunday

Dr. Robert G. Hennessy

Accomplish­ed neurosurge­on served in the Vietnam War

- By Jacques Kelly

Dr. Robert G. Hennessy, a retired St. Agnes Hospital neurosurge­on who practiced for more than 45 years, died of cardiac arrest June 23 at Sinai Hospital. He lived in Luthervill­e.

“Bob was noted for his devotion to patient care and his remarkably good outcomes,” said Dr. Donlin M. Long, a distinguis­hed service professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

Born in 1934 in Louisville, Kentucky, he was the son of Robert Hennessy and his wife, Agnes. He was raised in Summit, New Jersey, and was a 1952 graduate of Seton Hall Prep School.

Dr. Hennessy earned a bachelor’s degree from The College of the Holy Cross and went on to graduate from the Georgetown University School of Medicine.

He later earned a master’s in business administra­tion from Loyola University Maryland.

After postgradua­te training in surgery at the University of Minnesota, Dr. Hennessy completed his residency training in neurosurge­ry at the University of Maryland and had additional postgradua­te training in England and Sweden.

His colleague and friend, Dr. Long, said: “Bob was conservati­ve in his views. He was serious about his religion and an exceptiona­lly moral and ethical person. But what made him a good physician was he had the old-fashioned view that the patient came first.”

In 1967, during the Vietnam War, Dr. Hennessy was drafted and served in the Navy as a lieutenant commander assigned as a neurosurge­on to the Portsmouth Naval Hospital in Virginia.

Dr. Hennessy had joined Dr. Charles Henderson and started the first neurosurgi­cal practice based at St. Agnes Hospital earlier in 1967.

“He was particular­ly recognized for his understand­ing of the spine and surgical diseases, and was one of the first neurosurge­ons to focus on the spine, well before that subspecial­ty became popular,” said Dr. Long.

Dr. Hennessy served as chief of neurosurge­ry at St. Agnes for many years.

He was a past president of the Neurosurgi­cal Society of the Virginias. He was a fellow of the American College of Surgeons and American Associatio­n of Neurologic­al

Surgeons, a member of the Congress of Neurologic­al Surgeons and the Southern Neurologic­al Associatio­n and diplomat of the National Board of Medical Examiners.

His family said that in 1978 Dr. Hennessy made Maryland medical history by treating a basilar artery aneurysm using a posterior approach.

In 1991, St. Agnes Hospital named Dr. Hennessy president of its medical staff. In 2003, Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. named him to the Maryland Board of Physicians and in 2007 the board elected him its chair.

In 2014, Dr. Hennessy was inducted into the Healing Hands Society at St. Agnes Hospital.

“As the patriarch of his family, Bob was the brightest mind, the emotional rock, and the force that held them together,” said his son, Robert E. Hennessy of Wilmington, Delaware, in a family obituary. “He was the first person to consult when his children or grandchild­ren had a question about anything medical or financial, but he was always at his finest when it came to answers about life in general. With his generous heart and direct way of telling you how it is, you could always come to him for help or a reality check.”

Dr. Hennessy golfed and once played the St. Andrew’s Course in Scotland.

“Grandpa was an avid golfer who had a one-liner for everything on the golf course,” his grandson Matt Crain said in a eulogy. “‘Oh I thought I had it’ was a favorite every time he missed a putt. For long hitters he liked to say, ‘I love playing with long ball hitters; the woods are full of ‘em.’ Or anytime one of us would be excited about our new clubs, he would say, ‘Very nice. Now all you need is someone to swing them for you’. He loved to get out on the course with his family and outscore us with his methodical, straightfo­rward game.”

A funeral Mass was held June 28 at Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church in Cockeysvil­le where he was a member.

He is survived by his wife of 61 years, Marie Ryan, a Boston College nursing school graduate; four daughters, Mary Beth Crane and Meghan Murray, both of Wellesley, Massachuse­tts, Katherine Weigman of Baltimore and Ann Bomleny of Windemere, Florida; a son, Robert E. Hennessy of Wilmington, Delaware; 19 grandchild­ren; and a great-grandson.

 ??  ?? Dr. Robert G. Hennessy was an avid golf player.
Dr. Robert G. Hennessy was an avid golf player.

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