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Published: Monday, 3/5/2001

Internist was associated with clinic for decades

Dr. Merl B. Smith, an internist at the Toledo Clinic who early in his career held leadership posts at Flower Hospital, died Saturday, apparently of a stroke, at his Toledo home. He was 86.

Dr. Smith joined the clinic in 1948 and treated patients with diabetes and other internal illnesses, Dr. Ian Elliot, president of the clinic's board of directors, said. The clinic, a multispecialty group practice with 85 physicians today, was founded 75 years ago and remains independent of local hospitals.

“He was very well liked by patients,” Dr. Elliot said. “Anybody who dealt with him remembered him. He was very particular and compulsive in his habits and looked out for their welfare.''

Dr. Smith retired in 1984, but clinic staff continued to turn to him with questions about its history because of his long years with the organization, dating to when it was on Collingwood Boulevard, then on Secor Road.

Born in Toledo, Dr. Smith knew from the age of 9 that he wanted to be a physician, Gretchen Smith, his daughter, said. Growing up on Fernwood Avenue, he graduated in 1932 from Libbey High School. After earning his undergraduate degree at the University of Toledo in 1936, he entered medical school at Ohio State University. He received his medical degree in 1940.

Dr. Smith served an internship at the Cleveland Clinic, then entered the Army medical corps, serving from 1941 to 1945.

He married the former Margaret A. Roberts in 1946. She died in 1987.

Dr. Smith moved to Toledo when he joined the clinic. He was chief of medicine at Flower Hospital from 1957 to 1958 and chief of staff at the hospital from 1961 to 1963.

“He loved passing on his knowledge to the nurses,” Ms. Smith said.

His days were long, rising early to make hospital rounds before his clinic office hours, then returning to the hospital during lunch to see more patients, she said. His evenings were spent at home updating medical charts and reading to keep up with medical changes.

In his spare time, he enjoyed singing in the choir at Epworth United Methodist Church and attending Toledo Symphony performances.

His memberships included the American College of Physicians, Ohio Society of Internal Medicine, Phi Kappa Phi and Alpha Omega Alpha fraternities, the Kiwanis Club, American Legion, and American Diabetes Association.

Surviving are his son, David; daughter, Gretchen Smith, and three grandchildren.

Services will be at 11 a.m. Wednesday at H.H. Birkenkamp Funeral Home, Trilby Chapel, where the body will be after 3 p.m. tomorrow. The family requests tributes to the American Diabetes Association.



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