Fredrick J. "Rick" Montz, professor of gynecology, obstetrics, oncology and surgery at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and director of the Kelly Gynecologic Oncology Service at The Johns Hopkins Hospital, died of a heart attack on the evening of Nov. 21 while jogging. He was 47. Recruited to Hopkins in 1997, he was a nationally recognized authority on the use of minimally invasive techniques that preserve fertility in the treatment of gynecologic cancers.
A consummate physician, researcher and teacher, Montz was renowned at Hopkins and nationwide for his extraordinary ability to communicate with and comfort his thousands of cancer patients.
"Rick Montz was an outstanding physician, surgeon, investigator, mentor and friend, and a source of boundless compassion, skill and energy," said Harold E. Fox, professor and director of Gynecology and Obstetrics at Hopkins. "His intense commitment, intellectually and emotionally, to his patients, his students and his research will go forward through the young physicians he has trained and those fortunate to have been touched by his life."
Edward D. Miller, dean and CEO of Johns Hopkins Medicine, said, "Rick's contributions to the advancement and teaching of gynecologic oncology centered always on his abiding concern for the individual. His enthusiasm and energy for life, and his unwavering devotion to those who faced a diagnosis of cancer, will long be remembered. In his life, his work and his person, he was the very model of excellence that Hopkins most values."
Ronald R. Peterson, president of The Johns Hopkins Hospital and Health System, said, "What the Hopkins family and his patients will most remember is his fervent advocacy for his patients and his conveyance, always, of realistic hope for those under his care. We mourn his loss as members of his extended Hopkins family, and our thoughts and prayers pour out to his wife and children."
Martin D. Abeloff, professor and director of Oncology at Hopkins, remembered Montz as "one of the most compassionate and caring clinicians I have encountered in my many years at Hopkins. In many ways," he said, "he was bigger than life, and that makes his passing particularly difficult for everyone."
Viewed on television by millions as the pony-tailed, smiling and compassionate champion for his patients in the ABC News documentary Hopkins: 24/7, Montz was recalled recently by ABC executives as an exemplar of the medical arts. "There was not a single one of us who sat in our lengthy interview with him who failed to understand what extraordinary gifts he had for life and for healing," said Terry Wrong, senior producer for the ABC series.
As news of Montz's death filtered through the Hopkins campus the morning following his death, patients and staff recalled him as a sensitive champion for women's health. Said one employee who was a patient, "He didn't have someone else call with results [of a test], or even call me himself. He always walked over to talk to me personally and reassure me."
Fredrick Montz was born in 1955 in Marshfield, Wisc., and attended high school and junior college in Bismarck, N.D., before receiving a bachelor of arts degree at Concordia College in Moorhead, Minn. He obtained his medical degree with high honors in 1980 from Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas, graduating as a member of the honorary medical society, Alpha Omega Alpha.
While completing his residency in obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Southern California Medical Center in Los Angeles, he was awarded the Uwe Goebelsmann Award for outstanding research. He completed fellowships at St. George's Hospital, University of London School of Medicine in England, and the University of Southern California Norris Cancer Center in Los Angeles. He joined the faculty of the University of California, Los Angeles, School of Medicine in 1987, rising to the rank of associate professor in 1993. While there, he received the American Cancer Society Career Development Award.
His ongoing research interests involved efforts to preserve fertility in women with precancerous and cancerous conditions of the reproductive tract; to develop better, earlier screening methods to prevent death and disability from cervical, ovarian and uterine cancers; and to develop and refine less radical surgeries for gynecologic cancers.
At his death, Montz was serving as president of the Maryland Obstetric and Gynecology Society and was a fellow of both the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology and the American College of Surgeons. He traveled frequently to lend his skills and compassion to victims of international disasters, earning recognition for this work as an elected member of the Knights of Malta, an ancient international society formed to honor caregivers and protectors of the sick.
The recipient of numerous local and national teaching awards, he published more than 150 peer-reviewed journal articles, authored more than 30 book chapters and edited two textbooks. He also served on several journal editorial boards.
Montz was an academic consultant for the National Cancer Institute for Liga Contra El Cancer San Pedro Sula Honduras in Central America and also for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service for the Aberdeen area Indian Health Service and the Alaska area native Health Service.
He is survived by his wife, Kathleen M. Ryan, and four children, Jacob John and Rebekah Marie of Baltimore; Charles Robert of Providence, R.I., and Richard Uwe of Los Angeles.
A memorial service has been planned for 4:30 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 6, in Hurd Hall on the East Baltimore campus.