Dr. Gerhard Schmeisser, a retired
Born in Baltimore and raised on Tunbridge Road in Homeland, he was the son of Gerhard Schmeisser, an investment banker, and the former Katherine Fleming, a homemaker. He attended the Calvert School and was a 1944 graduate of the Gilman School, where he was captain of the lacrosse and wresting teams. He was a Maryland and Eastern States champion in his wresting weight class.
He was drafted into the Army immediately after his Gilman graduation. In an autobiographical sketch, he recalled joining about 100 teenagers in the Fifth Regiment Armory: "Most of the inductees felt that ... many would not survive. All accepted their fate and were wrenched by their feelings, and all concealed it."
Dr. Schmeisser became a second lieutenant and was assigned to
In his memoir, Dr. Schmeisser described traveling throughout Germany's American Zone. "The countryside was in disorder and the cities in rubble, sometimes still smelling from the underlying dead," he wrote. He encountered two types of people: "soldiers who were tired, cautious and always armed, and refugees from everywhere, all hungry, poorly clothed, migrant and dispirited."
He volunteered as a train commander to take 1,100 Hungarians, who had been slave workers for Nazi authorities, from Pocking, Germany, to Komaron, Hungary. He led the trip with 40 box cars and a "battle-scarred" steam locomotive. His mission, he said, was to get the Hungarians "to their destination, alive and unmolested by Soviet or other forces."
After leaving military service, he earned a bachelor's degree at
In 1958 he joined other Johns Hopkins physicians and
Dr. Schmeisser became the chief of orthopedic surgery at the old Baltimore City Hospitals in 1959. He also joined the Hopkins Medical School faculty and had an appointment at the
"Thus, for many years I was the primary source of education in
Dr. Thomas E. Hunt, a retired orthopedic surgeon, recalled Dr. Schmeisser as a "wonderful teacher who was interested in all sorts of things. He was a learned person, who was interested in early computers. He was also very organized."
In his memoir, Dr. Schmeisser said he acquired an early "strong interest" in the Johns Hopkins limb prosthesis clinic, which he subsequently directed. He wanted to use electrical power to help those who had lost their arms.
"He was an explorer and a very creative guy," said a colleague, Charles Dankmeyer Jr. of Arnold, who is a prosthethist. "He liked to push the envelope a bit. It was the
The Veterans Administration funded studies with the Hopkins School of Medicine and the Applied Physics Laboratory to develop prosthetic devices, robotic systems and electric wheelchairs for quadriplegics.
"He pioneered fitting patients with articial limbs immediately after surgery," he said. "His idea was to get them up and healing faster."
Dr. Schmeisser worked with Applied Physics Lab engineers Woodrow Seamone and John Loveless to create a control system for an upper limb prostheses. In 1971 that device won an Industrial Research Award as "one of the 100 most significant technological advances in the world."
Dr. Gaylord Lee Clark Jr., a friend who lives in Stevenson, called Dr. Schmeisser "an adventurer in all areas of life, a great personality and a leader."
He recalled how when a 14-year-old required the
"It was a great achievement," Dr. Clark said. "Gerry meant a lot to the lives of his patients."
Dr. Schmeisser commuted to Hopkins from Gibson Island on a
He retired in 1991 and sailed North American waterways and the Abaco Islands in the Bahamas.
Services are private.
Survivors include his wife of 55 years, the former Ann Kendrick Melvin, a former Johns Hopkins nurse.