Dr. Thomas F. "Tim" Herbert, a well-known Howard County physician who practiced family medicine in Ellicott City for 40 years, died Sunday of cancer at William Hill Manor in Easton. He was 86.
"Tim was such a wonderful guy and he was wonderful to me," said Dr. Harry C. Knipp, a radiologist and longtime friend. "He lived and practiced medicine in the home he grew up in that overlooked Ellicott City."
The son of Dr. Alpha Nathan Herbert, a physician, and Dorothy Kraft Herbert, a registered nurse, Thomas Franklyn Herbert, who was known as "Tim," was born in Baltimore and raised in Ellicott City.
After graduating in 1945 from Ellicott City High School, he earned a bachelor's degree in 1949 from the Johns Hopkins University.
He was a 1953 graduate of the University of Maryland School of Medicine and completed his internship and residency at St. Agnes Hospital.
"He was an excellent family physician who referred many patients to me, and when he referred a patient to me, I knew they had to be seen," said Dr. Martin Middleton, retired chief of surgery at St. Agnes Hospital who went to medical school with Dr. Herbert.
From 1955 to 1957, Dr. Herbert served in the Air Force and was assigned as the physician to the U.S. Embassy in Moscow. Before leaving for this assignment, he married the former Katherine B. "Kassie" Rohe.
After being discharged in 1957, he returned to Ellicott City, where he practiced family medicine in a Victorian-style home that dated to 1872 and had been built by another physician, Dr. William Hodges.
"His office was in the basement of the house on Church Road where he had grown up and where his father practiced medicine before him from 1926 to 1950," said his daughter, Kathleen Nueslein.
"We lived there and patients could hear me playing the piano and I could hear kids crying when my father had to give them shots," said Ms. Nueslein, who lives in Ellicott City.
"He was a caring and traditional old-fashioned doctor. He was a Marcus Welby-type of doc who knew his patients for years and knew them well," said Dr. Knipp. "He was always attuned to people's feelings. He was a calm man who never raised his voice."
In a 1988 interview with The Baltimore Sun, Dr. Herbert said he had treated thousands of patients through the years who knew how to reach him even in the middle of the night.
"That's one of the disadvantages of having your office in your home," his wife said in the interview.
In 1988, Dr. Herbert was forced to move after the parking space on Church Road could no longer accommodate his patients. He relocated his practice to an office in Court House Square at Ellicott Mills and Courthouse drives, which was within walking distance of his old office and home.
"I wanted to stay in Ellicott City and I was very anxious not to leave the town proper," Dr. Herbert explained to the newspaper.
In addition to his practice, Dr. Herbert was Howard County assistant medical examiner from 1957 to 1965 and Howard County chief deputy medical examiner from 1965 to 1990.
He served on the medical staff of St. Agnes Hospital for more than 30 years and was past president of the Howard County Medical Society.
Dr. Herbert was a past president of the Howard County Medical Association and a member of the American Academy of Family Practice, Maryland Academy of Family Practice and the Maryland Medical-Chirurgical Society.
"He loved Ellicott City, his patients, and its people and was serving as president of the Ellicott City Historical Society at the time of the 1984 fire that burned down many buildings on Main Street," said Ms. Nueslein. "He headed the committee that helped restore the damaged buildings."
In 1991, Dr. Herbert retired and moved to St. Michaels. A bass, he was a member of and sang with the Seaford, Del., Barbershop Chorus, and later helped to organize the Easton chapter of the Bay Country Chorus.
He also enjoyed playing piano for family, friends and special functions "or for anyone who asked," his daughter said.
An inveterate lifelong model railroader, Dr. Herbert enjoyed setting up elaborate Christmas gardens, where he incorporated O-, HO- or N-gauge trains from his collection.
Dr. Herbert was a communicant of St. Michaels Roman Catholic Mission Church, 109 Lincoln Ave., St. Michaels, where a Mass of Christian burial will be offered at 10:30 a.m. Thursday.
A prayer service will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday at the Slack Funeral Home, 3871 Old Columbia Pike, Ellicott City.
In addition to his wife and daughter, Dr. Herbert is survived by a niece; a great-nephew; and three great-nieces.