Dr. Ellen G. McDaniel, whose distinguished career in
The former Ellen Garb was raised in Cleveland and went off to college with thoughts of becoming a nurse. But her father encouraged her to train as a doctor, and she did — graduating from the
"She was a trailblazer," he said.
The McDaniels graduated together from Michigan, were married the next day and went off to Delaware Hospital in Wilmington, he to work in administration and she to do a rotating internship.
Dr. McDaniel joined the
"The field of psychiatry and
She saw people holistically. She got to know applicants to the school beyond their grades and test scores, and she impressed upon medical students that patients with physiological problems have emotional and psychological needs, too — as do their families.
"For those of us who trained in psychiatry at the University of Maryland, there was a very stiff competition to have her as a supervisor," said Dr. Paul McClelland, chief of psychiatry at
Dr. McDaniel brought humor to duties that other faculty members might have griped about — seeing more than 35 unfamiliar patients in a single day while pulling a weekend shift at the hospital, for instance. She didn't complain. She laughed.
"She just had a real disarming sense of humor that made it so safe to reveal your own character flaws and just be more genuine," said Dr. McClelland, who worked with her at the medical school after training there. "Her patients absolutely loved her. … She just made you comfortable being yourself."
And she was cheerful despite a specialty that could easily depress: forensic psychiatry, the intersection of mental health and crime. She testified in cases across the mid-Atlantic, speaking to defendants' mental states and other details that influence decisions on guilt or sentencing.
William J. Rowan III, a retired
Dr. McDaniel, who worked in private practice after leaving the University of Maryland in 1992, focused entirely on forensic psychiatry in the past decade. Earlier, she had also seen patients in a general practice.
Her professional life was just a piece of the whole, though. She raised two children. She was a founding board member of the Baltimore Lab School for bright students with learning disabilities. She gardened. She wrote short stories. She raised thoroughbred racehorses, with her husband, on their farm. She served on state panels, including a task force on domestic violence. And she traveled extensively — going to dozens of countries, from Iceland to Cambodia.
"One time I asked her what she was going to do for her vacation, and she bowled me over when she told me she was going bungee jumping in Thailand," Judge Rowan said.
Mr. McDaniel, who called his wife "a master of multi-tasking," said she also advocated for social issues she felt passionate about, among them gay rights and repealing the death penalty. She used her sense of humor to ensure that Maryland's ballot measure to approve same-sex marriage got one more vote than it otherwise would have.
"She said, 'Look, you promise me you're going to vote for gay marriage,'" said her husband, a Republican who often canceled out her more liberal votes. "I said, 'Well, I'm not sure I can do that.' She said, 'No, look, you're not going to deny a dying woman's last request!' "
It worked. He laughs at the recollection.
Dr. McDaniel spent the past 30 years battling with cancer — first ovarian, then breast, then non-
"The perspective that Ellen always had was how blessed and privileged she had been," Mr. McDaniel said. "She would say to people, 'I've had a great run.'"
In addition to her husband, Dr. McDaniel is survived by her children, Lorrie Clendenin of Bethesda and Michael McDaniel of Baltimore; a brother, Robert Garb of San Rafael, Calif.; two sisters, Susan Jaworowski of Avon, Ohio, and Connie Gale of Jerome, Mich.; and three grandchildren.
The family expects to hold a celebration of life ceremony on a date to be determined. Donations may be made to the Dr. Ellen McDaniel Scholarship Fund at the Baltimore Lab School, 2220