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Late doctor remembered for his drive, spirit, love

May 23, 2010|By ANDREW SCHOTZ
  • Penny McDougal gets a hug from one of the many people who attended a memorial service in Frederick Saturday for her late husband, Dr. Dan McDougal.
By Yvette May, Staff Photographer

FREDERICK, Md. -- Amy Hutchens placed a pair of her father's shoes on the lectern to illustrate the passionate, productive life he led.

While wearing those shoes, Dr. Dan McDougal never retreated from a battle and he walked miles of hospital hallways in the name of healing, Hutchens said Saturday during a memorial service for him.

Each day, those shoes led McDougal home to his family, she said.

McDougal -- the former medical director at Antietam Health Services and the Community Free Clinic of Washington County and an unabashed advocate for health care access and addiction treatment -- died May 10 at age 64. He had amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a degenerative condition commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease.

Friends, colleagues and relatives saluted McDougal on Saturday at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation church near Frederick.

They spoke of his drive, spirit and love for his family, his patients and good health.

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Dr. Dan Morhaim, a physician and state delegate from Baltimore County, said McDougal argued eloquently and forcefully for primary care.

"Just imagine having Dr. Dan McDougal coming after you with truth and justice on his side," Morhaim said. "You don't want to be in his sights."

"He could be like a freight train to derail," said Wayne Harman, a former neighbor.

Mike Zampelli, Washington County Health System's vice president for Antietam Health Services, said McDougal railed against managed care, calling it "managed cost."

McDougal never fully became an administrator because "Dan never wanted to lose his roots as a physician," Zampelli said.

Some spoke of McDougal's fondness for boating, which was as keen and intense as any of his interests.

In a magazine piece, McDougal wrote, "My view is that working on your boat, far from being an annoyance, is the heart and soul of the whole endeavor."

The article sat on a table of mementos at the church.

Another was his datebook, which revealed an intricate system of color-coded scheduling and note-taking on medical information.

Morhaim said McDougal regularly read and studied Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, a thick reference guide, even in the final weeks of his life.

It would take him a few years to go through the entire book. By then, it was time for the next edition and McDougal would read it again, Morhaim said.

The Rev. Robert Hughes played a recording of what he said was one of McDougal's favorite songs -- Bob Dylan's rendition of "Mr. Tambourine Man."

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