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The newspaper of The Johns Hopkins University February 21, 2005 | Vol. 34 No. 23
Obituary: Jean Fowler, 75, Founding Director of Maternity Center East

Jean Fowler, founding director of Maternity Center East and a former administrator and midwife in the Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics, died of lung cancer at her Mt. Washington home on Feb. 5. She was 75.

Fowler joined the university in 1961 as a nurse midwife, and in 1972 she helped open a women's family planning clinic at the corner of Chester and Jefferson streets. The clinic, which came to be called Maternity Center East, continues to serve the women of East Baltimore with more than 2,000 visits a year. Fowler was the clinic's director until her retirement in 1995. Beginning in 1989, she also was administrative manager for all the ambulatory care clinics in the Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics.

"I was very happy and lucky to 'inherit' Jean when I came on board in 1984," said Edward Wallach, a former chairman of the department. "I will always remember her wonderful energy, her dedication and her competence as an administrator."

Courtland Robinson, medical director of MCE from 1990 to 1995, said, "Jean's genius was that she knew better the health needs of the women of East Baltimore and was able, better than anyone I knew, to seek, coordinate and obtain funding from various sources in order to meet those needs."

In addition to her many appointments with professional organizations, Fowler acted as an adviser to Planned Parenthood and Family Planning Orientation International. "No one was a greater advocate for family planning rights and for women's health in general than Jean," said Jeri Mancini, current director of Maternity Center East.

Jean Fowler was born in London on Jan. 6, 1930, and in her teen years trained in ballet. She would later attend the Lucy Clayton Modeling School and modeled in Paris.

In 1952, she received her nursing diploma from the Liverpool Royal Infirmary at the Liverpool University Medical School and received post-graduate training at Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York. Returning to England, she became a certified midwife of the Royal College of Midwives in 1958. Two years later, Fowler immigrated to Canada and became a public health nurse with the Canadian Indian and Eskimo Service in Saskatchewan. She moved to Baltimore in 1961 to begin her career at Johns Hopkins, where she was a nurse midwife observer with a child growth and development study.

Fowler is survived by her husband of 37 years, Bruce O. Fowler, a retired chemist formerly with the National Institutes of Health; their son, Richard O. Fowler of Dearborn, Mich.; and a sister-in-law, Jean Bird, and niece, Pattie Bird, of Cheshire, England. Her first husband, Arthur R. Wheeldon, died in 1958.

A memorial service was held Feb. 19 in Baltimore. At Fowler's request, her remains will be placed within the sound of the bells of the church St. Mary-le-Bow in London, where it is said that only those born within the sound of the bells are true Cockneys. Donations in her honor may be made to the American Cancer Society, 8219 Town Center Dr., P.O. Box 4325, Baltimore MD 21236.


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