Frederic J. (Rick) Montz, M.D.

Frederic J. (Rick) Montz


F. J. (Rick) Montz died suddenly, presumably of a cardiac arrhythmia, while jogging near his home in Baltimore, Maryland, on November 21, 2002. His tragically premature death cut short one of our discipline's most promising careers, a career that could aptly be characterized as meteoric.

Fredrick John Montz, named for a maternal grandfather who was a country doctor, was born in Marshfield, Wisconsin on May 22, 1955. A few months later the family moved to Bismarck, North Dakota, where Rick's father entered practice as one of the first certified obstetrician-gynecologists in the state. Rick graduated from Concordia College in Minnesota and then took the two-year medical curriculum at the University of North Dakota before transferring to the Baylor College of Medicine to complete requirements for the M.D. degree. While at Baylor he received a number of important recognitions, including election to Alpha Omega Alpha as a junior and designation as the Alumni Association Outstanding Medical Student as a senior, accolades that are all the more unusual for a transfer student. Upon graduation in 1980, he went west to internship and residency in obstetrics and gynecology at Los Angeles County-University of Southern California Medical Center, followed by a one-year fellowship in urogynecology at St. George's Hospital and Medical School in London, and then a gynecologic oncology fellowship back at USC.

His formal education complete, in 1987 Rick took an appointment as Assistant Professor at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). As he progressed up the academic ladder over the next decade, being promoted to tenure rank in 1993, he made his influence felt at UCLA. He was, of course, actively and intimately involved in the clinical operations of a busy referral gynecologic oncology service and he established and pursued both laboratory and clinical research programs. He attracted a coterie of talented young physicians-medical students, residents, and fellows who wanted to work with him. Whenever there was something that needed to be done, Rick was always the first to volunteer, and always enthusiastically. Thus, he had responsibilities, often overlapping, for the oncology service at an affiliated hospital, the medical student clerkship in obstetrics-gynecology, gross anatomy teaching of freshman students, and the UCLA Human Subjects Protection Committee (including a term as chair).

After a decade at UCLA, in 1997 Rick moved to Baltimore as Professor of Gynecology and Obstetrics at Johns Hopkins University, where he founded and developed the Howard A. Kelly Gynecologic Oncology Service at the Johns Hopkins Hospital. The mission statement for the service, "to supply exemplary, compassionate, respectful, and holistic health care to women suffering with gynecologic malignancies; to advance the science of this discipline in a meaningful and applicable manner; and to mentor and educate the future leading physicians in women's health," is a simple but eloquent expression that could serve equally as his own creed. Though his time at Hopkins turned out to be barely four years, his impact on the institution was remarkable and his intense commitment, intellectually and emotionally, to students, house officers, research, colleagues and patients constitutes an enduring legacy. In recognition of his contributions to the Department of Surgery, he had recently been given a joint appointment as Professor in that department, the first gynecologist since Howard Kelly himself to hold such a position. At the time of his death he was president of the Maryland Obstetrics and Gynecology Society.

Rick Montz viewed the practice of medicine as a privilege, an allconsuming vocation to be approached with the utmost reverence, and he was unalterably committed to the welfare of each and every patient he saw. Having chosen a particularly difficult and demanding area of medicine, he never manifested any sign of discouragement and his ever-present energetic and enthusiastic manner made him a role model for those who worked with him, as well as a source of encouragement and comfort for his patients. Seen by millions of television viewers as the pony-tailed, smiling and emotional champion for his patients on the ABC News documentary "Hopkins 24/7," Rick was thoroughly committed to the totality of patient care, including mental, emotional, and spiritual as well as physical aspects. Perhaps his greatest impact came by virtue of his unwavering devotion to those who faced serious illness and death, helping them to understand and ultimately accept their fate and to die with dignity and peace.

Rick felt an especially strong commitment to the underserved. Not only did he apply the same standard of care to women from all social and economic strata in Los Angeles and Baltimore, but he regularly participated, typically at his own expense, in clinical programs in Honduras and on Native American reservations. In recognition of this commitment, he was elected to membership in the Knights of Malta, an historic international Roman Catholic organization dedicated to protecting and serving the sick and unfortunate.

His research interests were wide-ranging but he was especially interested in developing methods of cancer treatment that were conservative and, whenever possible, fertility-sparing. His AGOS candidate's thesis, scheduled for the ill-fated 2001 meeting and then actually given the next year, described highly original work on using intrauterine progesterone to treat early, well differentiated endometrial cancer in women who are poor surgical risks.

Rick's personality included a certain endearing flair and zest for living, often with some contrasting shades. He loved fine wines--Chateau Leoville Las Cases and Brunello di Montalcino were his favorites--yet he was abstemious in other aspects of diet. He always carried a supply of the best Havana cigars to share with friends--when appropriate--but he was somewhat of a fanatic about physical conditioning, and to describe him as a "serious" runner would be a vast understatement. With his earring, pony tail and penchant for Harley Davidsons, he seemed to work hard at being unconventional, yet his core values-love of family, loyalty and respect for authority, professionalism and commitment to medicine--were as straight and conventional as they could be.

Left to mourn Rick, but also to treasure the fond memories of his remarkable life, are many colleagues, associates, students, and patients, and especially the family to whom he was so devoted: his wife, Doctor Kathleen M. Ryan; their two children, Rebekah and Jacob; and two sons from a previous marriage, Rob and Rocky.

Submitted by Roy M. Pitkin, M.D. & Harold E. Fox, M.D.

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