Friday, December 02, 2016
Dr. Blandina Worcester Brewster:
Early Woman Physician
A respected physician when relatively few women were practicing medicine, Dr. Blandina Worcester was “one of the pioneer women doctors of this country, her example having inspired other women to enter the profession,” The Ridgefield Press reported in 1984 when she died at the age of 82.
Dr. Worcester was not only a leading pediatrician in New York City, but also a professor of pediatrics at a top university.
What’s more, she and her husband established a family that 80 years later, is a significant part of Ridgefield’s life.
A native of Geneva, N.Y., Dr. Worcester was born in 1902, graduated from Radcliffe College in 1923, and from Johns Hopkins Medical School in 1927. During her internship at Johns Hopkins, she worked with the Frontier Nursing Service in rural Kentucky, riding to her patients on horseback.
She established a practice of pediatrics in New York City in the 1930s, was on the attending staff at Bellevue Hospital’s Children’s Medical Service from 1933 until 1968, was medical director at The New York Infirmary for many years, and was a professor of clinical pediatrics at New York University’s Medical School for 38 years.
In 1935, she married Carroll H. Brewster, a lawyer and partner of Davis Polk in New York City, and a year later, the couple bought the Farmingville farm that had been “The Hickories,” the home of George H. Lounsbury (also profiled in Who Was Who), governor of Connecticut. When the Brewsters bought the place, it had recently been used as a private girls school.
Dr. Worcester — she used that name throughout her career — lived in New York and spent summers and weekends here until her retirement in 1971, after which she moved fulltime to Ridgefield.
She was a voracious reader but in her last few years, became nearly blind. Nonetheless, she continued to play bridge with some of her many Ridgefield friends.
Dr. Worcester was also a woman of scholarship and a keen mind, and both of her two sons became leaders in academia. When he retired in 1999, the Rev. John Gurdon Brewster had been Episcopal chaplain at Cornell University for 34 years — a position he held longer than any other university Episcopal chaplain in the country. He is also a sculptor and his work is in many collections, including Union Theological Center and The Vatican.
Carroll Worcester Brewster, a Yale Law School graduate, was a dean at Dartmouth, and then president of Hollins College. He was later president of Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, his mother’s birthplace (she was awarded an honorary doctorate of humane letters there in 1983).
In 1966, Carroll Brewster became a member of the Ridgefield Conservation Commission. He resigned in 1969 to pursue careers that included legal counsel to the government of Sudan, as well as college leadership. On his retirement, he returned to Ridgefield and rejoined the Conservation Commission in 2000 and is still serving today — a half century after he began the job.
Carroll Brewster lives on the family farm, whose development rights the family deeded to the town in 1996, preserving more than 100 acres in Farmingville.
His daughter, Dina, resurrected The Hickories as an organic farm in the early 2000s, and continues to run the operation, now the largest and one of the last working farms in Ridgefield.
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