Dr. Carlton Lasley Sexton

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Dr. Carlton Lasley Sexton, a retired Baltimore internist who was also a member of the clinical faculty of the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, died July 20 of pneumonia at the Blakehurst retirement community in Towson.

The former longtime Stevenson resident was 87.

The son of a businessman and a homemaker, Dr. Sexton was born and raised in Pensacola, Fla., where he graduated from Pensacola High School.

He combined his undergraduate and medical school education in the Navy's V-12 program, an accelerated course of study during World War II that was designed to prepare physicians for military service.

Dr. Sexton began his studies at Vanderbilt University in 1942 and earned his bachelor's and medical degrees in 1948. From 1948 to 1956, he trained in internal medicine at Johns Hopkins Hospital.

Dr. Sexton's residency was interrupted by two years in the Navy, during which time he was stationed in Annapolis and San Diego, until he returned to Hopkins as chief resident on the Marburg private patient service.

In addition to his work at Hopkins, he also worked in the tuberculosis clinic at the old Baltimore City Hospitals, now Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center.

Dr. Sexton went into private practice with Dr. Allen Bernstein in 1956, establishing an office at 819 Park Ave.

He remained there until 1981, when he relocated to an office in the old Baltimore Life Building, whose walls he decorated with framed photographs by noted Baltimore Sun photographer A. Aubrey Bodine.

"He was known to ask patients, when examining their eyes, to focus on the moon in one of several A. Aubrey Bodine prints that he enjoyed displaying on his office wall," said a daughter, J. Corbin Sexton of Iowa City.

"He routinely spent upward of an hour with each patient. Always profoundly respectful of those in his care, he took [as] deep [an] interest in their personal lives as he took in providing them with excellent medical care," said Ms. Sexton.

James A. Forbes, a psychologist and Hopkins colleague, was also a patient and longtime friend of Dr. Sexton's.

"I was his patient for at least 45 years and so was my wife," said Mr. Forbes who lives in Monkton and had been a part-time professor in the medical school at Hopkins.

"I remember Alice and I, who had been fasting for our annual physicals, would arrive at his office at 8 a.m. I would go first and then my wife, and she'd come out at noon," recalled Mr. Forbes.

"Think of that in the context of medicine today. So thorough was Carlton that he'd examine from the soles of your feet to the hair follicles on the top of your head. He was absolutely exceptional."

Mr. Forbes said that once test results were in, Dr. Sexton would discuss them in great detail with his patients.

"You walked out of there thinking you could join the Navy SEALs after speaking with Carlton," he said. "He was so professional, and thorough, he followed up, that many of the Hopkins people went to him."

"Part of his evening routine was from his red chair in the small den of the family's home in Stevenson, where he spent hours on his red rotary phone with his patients," said Ms. Sexton.

"His comment, 'I hope I am not interrupting your dinner,' would start out many a long, thoughtful conversation with a patient on the other end of the line whom he was calling with what was many times a 'good report,' " she said.

In addition to his private practice, Dr. Sexton, an assistant professor at the Hopkins School of Medicine, taught a course in physical diagnosis for many years.

"He prided himself on passing on to the next generation not only the fundamentals of taking a patient history and doing a physical exam, but also the nuances of bedside manner," said a son, Carlton C. Sexton, who lives in Towson.

Dr. Sexton was also the longtime medical director at Baltimore Life Insurance Co., a consultant to the Social Security Administration, a staff physician at the Chesapeake & Potomac Telephone Co., and a flight examiner for the Federal Aviation Agency.

When Dr. Sexton retired in 1991, L. John Pearson, a life insurance executive who was chairman of the Baltimore Life Insurance Co. from 1995 through 2011, wrote in a letter, "It would indeed be a pleasure to work in an environment of 'Carltons' where everyone was a gentleman such as yourself."

Dr. Sexton was an avid reader and writer of letters. His musical tastes ranged from American folk to contemporary and classical.

He and his wife, the former Letitia Lee Clark, whom he married in 1951, regularly attended performances of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.

Dr. Sexton was also an accomplished yachtsman and enjoyed sailing the Capella, a Bermuda 40 that was owned by his close friend, Andy Skinner of Annapolis.

He was equally happy leisurely exploring the "coves, inlets and open waters of the Chesapeake Bay," his daughter said, as well as being a much-sought-after crew member for Annapolis-Bermuda races.

He also was a bird-watcher and erected blue birdhouses, placed bird feeders and kept the birdbath filled with fresh water on the grounds of his Stevenson home.

Since 1999, Dr. Sexton and his wife had lived at Blakehurst.

"Carlton was an all-around wonderful guy. I could apply all kinds of superlatives to describe him," said Mr. Forbes.

A graveside service for Dr. Sexton will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday at St. Thomas Episcopal Church, 232 St. Thomas Lane, Owings Mills.

In addition to his wife of 61 years and his son and daughter, Dr. Sexton is survived by another son, Jonathan Sexton of Park City, Utah; two other daughters, Letitia Yensho of Stanardsville, Va., and Polly Barlow of Burke, Va.; eight grandchildren; and a great-granddaughter.

fred.rasmussen@baltsun.com

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