17watkins-obit-blog427It came as a shock to me today that my old professor, Dr. Levi Watkins, had suddenly died at the age of 70 from a heart attack and stroke.

A tall, lanky cardiac surgeon, renowned at Hopkins for his skill and temperament, he was recognized throughout the institution as a ‘great man’ for his pioneering work in Civil Rights, and through his personal story of achievement despite the challenges of racism and segregation that made his path arduous.

Ironically, his pioneering work was in Implantable Cardiac Defibrillators, the then experimental, but now commonly implanted devices that protect against fatal arrhythmias of the heart.

His visage was one I saw regularly during my times on the wards.  Although I did not know him personally, he was the inspiration for the black students throughout the Hopkins institution, and he was a personal mentor to my classmate James Hildreth, MD. who is currently the Dean of Biological Sciences at UC Davis.

He was and is in inspiration on a life dedicated to medicine, but beyond that, as someone of stature who demonstrated his commitment to excellence every day on the wards.

Read his obituary here for more detailed information>>>>>HERE<<<<<