Baltimore otolaryngologist Dr. Howard Hessan, who practiced for nearly 40 years and was an avid athlete, died June 8 at Palm Beach Gardens Medical Center in Florida from complications of Parkinson’s disease. The former Clarksville and Columbia resident is 66 years old.
“He was an excellent surgeon, a caring doctor who put his patients first, in addition to his family,” said Dr. Thomas M. Silber, who has known Dr. Hessan for 37 years. Dr. Silber is an allergist and shares an office with Dr. Hessan.
Plastic surgeon Dr. George Thomas Grace is a colleague and longtime friend of mine.
“We did a lot of business together and became good friends. He was a very smart guy and loved being a doctor,” Dr. Grace said. “In her eulogy, his sister said Howard wanted to be a doctor from the age of two.”
Howard Hessan, the son of appliance repair shop owner Louis Hessan and school administrator Miriam Hessan, was born and raised in Norristown, Pennsylvania, and is a graduate of Norristown High School.
He received his bachelor’s degree from Johns Hopkins University in 1979 and his medical degree from Penn State College of Medicine in Hershey, PA in 1983, where he completed his residency in otolaryngology.
“He was very bright and had a top training program,” Dr. Silber said. “He’s very dry but quick-witted and always a pleasure to be around.”
Dr. Hessan has been an otolaryngologist for nearly 40 years at Ascension St. Agnes Hospital and now Johns Hopkins Howard County Medical Center in Columbia.
“He’ll be on call or in the emergency room, and he doesn’t care about the patient’s ability to pay or whether they have insurance — he just cares about their need to be cared for,” Dr. Grace said.
At St. Agnes, he was a member of the Executive Committee and the Finance Committee, and at Johns Hopkins Howard County Medical Center, he was a member of the Operating Theater Committee.
“He always provided leadership in departments and committees,” Dr. Silber said.
“Howard was involved with the hospital and worked with the local otolaryngology and hearing association, where he started a program for people who couldn’t afford hearing aids,” Dr Grace said.
He added: “He was a doctor who wanted to make a difference for his patients and he saved their energy. His death is a real loss to the community.”
In 2014, Dr Hessan received the Sidon Award for 25 years of service to St Agnes. He also practiced for 33 years in private practice on Wilkens Avenue in Baltimore and Columbia.
“He was a wonderful guy who always gave his patients the time and care they needed,” said Janice M. Fisher, who first met when they both worked on the ENT Specialty Group at Glen Burnie. Here comes Dr. Hessan. As he established his personal practice, Ms. Fisher followed him and managed his office for 30 years.
“I was a novice and he taught me everything there was to know about otolaryngology,” Ms. Fisher said. “He was revered by so many people, he had thousands of patients. We numbered the cases and I know we hit 10,000.”
His professional memberships include the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery and the Maryland Academy of Otolaryngology, for which he was past president. He is also a board member of the Hearing and Speech Institute.
Dr. Hessan will retire in 2021.
“When he retired, the families he helped expressed their gratitude,” Dr. Silber said. “He’s a very, very dedicated doctor.”
His philanthropic efforts include the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, founded by a Hollywood actor who also has Parkinson’s.
Dr. Hessan is married to Jeri Fox, whom he has known since fourth grade in Norristown. In 1979, she became the bookkeeper for his private practice.
The couple had a regular Tuesday night date night at Ananda, an Indian restaurant in Fulton, where they sat at the bar watching sports on TV while spending time with other regulars and staff.
Dr. Hessan is a loyal Nittany Lions fan, as well as the Ravens and Washington Wizards.
“We’ve had Ravens season tickets from the day the team came to town,” Dr. Silber said.
Every time Penn State or the Ravens scored a touchdown, the family said, he would call his son or uncle and talk about “the game now set.”
He is an avid golfer and played tennis for 20 years.
“Howard has the sharpest wit, the coolest, and the smartest sense of humor of anyone I know,” David Nevins, a longtime friend and Baltimore marketing executive, wrote in an email.
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Mr. Nevins wrote that while he was not a patient of Dr. Hessan, he knew that St. Agnes considered him one of their “shining stars”.
“All of us were his friends and often sought his advice and advice,” Mr Nevins wrote. “In terms of a guy who can balance family life and a thriving career, he seems to do it seamlessly. He has a uniquely positive approach to life, even after he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s, which is unique and amazing .”
As a wine connoisseur, he especially loves the wines of Napa Valley in California and visits there often. He also acquired his master pizza maker skills while working at Pizza Hut while completing his residency.
His son, Josh Hessan of San Francisco, said his father used “superior surgical skill” in carving the Thanksgiving turkey and then resealing it on a plate.
A resident of Columbia and Clarksville until moving to Palm Beach Gardens in 2022, Dr. Hessan has been a member of the Church of Beth Shalom in Columbia.
The service was held Wednesday at the Joseph Levin and Sons Memorial Church in Trevos, Pennsylvania.
In addition to his wife and son, he has a daughter, Lauren Horowitz, who lives in Pennsylvania Valley, Pennsylvania. Sister of Diane Hessan of Boston; and two granddaughters.
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