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Otha Linton, supporter of radiology and Wisconsin MS Journalism 1954, dies at 88

Dec. 16, 2020
Category: Obituary

Otha Linton passed away on Monday, Dec. 7, 2020 due to dementia.

He loved swimming, sailing, writing and his family. He devoted his career to supporting the practice of radiology. He is remembered as a great friend, husband and father. He enjoyed telling and writing humorous stories.

Otha was born on March 10, 1932, in Fulton, Kentucky to Otha C. and Ruth Linton. He was involved in many youth activities in town. He played on the high school football team and sang in the Glee Club. He achieved the rank of Eagle Scout in the Boy Scouts.

He had an interest in writing from an early age. He got into the news business when he took a job as a paperboy, delivering newspapers for the local Fulton Daily Leader and the Memphis Press-Scimitar.

Otha graduated from Fulton High School in 1949. That was a year earlier than normal because he skipped the fourth grade.

From high school, Otha first attended Murray State University, in nearby Murray, Kentucky. He transferred to and graduated from the University of Missouri, Columbia in 1953 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. He continued his education at the University of Wisconsin. There, he graduated with a master’s degree, also in journalism.

While at Murray State he worked summer jobs as a lifeguard and at the hotel and marina at nearby Kentucky Lake. There, he learned to sail — and his lifelong passion for sailing began. He wrote an article about sailing the length of Kentucky Lake and sold it to the Nashville Tennessean. (An example of combining two of his passions.)

At Wisconsin, he joined the sailing club and learned how to race sailboats. He continued racing for years and crewed on several Chicago-to-Mackinac Island race sailboats. After moving to Maryland, he bought a succession of sailboats and enjoyed cruising on the Chesapeake Bay with friends and family.

Upon graduation from Wisconsin in 1955, Otha was drafted into the U.S. Army. He was assigned as an intelligence officer at 5th Army headquarters in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood. He was honorably discharged in 1957, at the rank of 1st Lieutenant.

Otha worked for the American Osteopathic Association as the press press representative and assistant director of public relations. He was hired as director of public relations in April 1961 by the American College of Radiology (ACR). With this job, he began his association with the field of radiology.

While swimming in Lake Michigan off of the Hyde Park beach in the mid-1950s, he met Dorothy Newman. They fell in love and were married on January 4, 1958. They had two children. Dorothy died of cancer on April 15, 1969. Otha remarried on August 2, 1969.

That summer, the family moved to the Maryland suburbs of Washington, D.C. There, he opened an office for the ACR and was named director of government relations. In that capacity he traveled widely, giving radiologists his Washington report, often sprinkled with some of his humorous stories. He knew doctors around the globe. He was involved with development of Black Lung screening procedures used by radiologists. Those procedures were used in screening sufferers of other dust lung diseases.

He was promoted to Associate Executive Director with the ACR, in 1984, and retired in that role in 1997. In 1995, he also served as executive director of Radiology Centennial Inc., a not-for-profit organization created by numerous scientific societies and commercial companies to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the discovery of the X-ray and to celebrate a century of achievement in radiation science.

In recognition of his service to the field of radiology, he received a gold medal from the ACR in 2003 and the American Roentgen Ray Society in 1995. In 1990, he was named as an honorary member of the Radiological Society of North America. He was an honorary member of the District of Columbia Radiological Society and a life member of the National Association of Science Writers. In 1997, the American Medical Association give him a citation for distinguished service by a layman.

One of his last responsibilities at the ACR was writing a history of the ACR for its 75th anniversary. This assignment led him to a second career as a book writer. He specialized in writing histories of major medical school radiology departments and their contributions to the field. He authored a total of 14 books. His subjects included: Stanford University; University of California, San Francisco; University of Maryland; Johns Hopkins University; University of Pennsylvania; Massachusetts General Hospital; and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

He served as executive director of the International Society of Radiology from 1995 to 2012.

He was a member of the Annapolis Yacht Club and the Cosmos Club.

He is survived by his wife, Diana; his son, Clifton; his daughter, Anne; and his sister, Anne Robertson.

Donations to the Alzheimer’s Association would be appreciated.

He will be interred at the Arizona Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Marana, Arizona. A virtual memorial service will be held on January 9, 2020, at 2 pm EST. For information about a link to the service and/or speaking at the memorial, please contact Clifton Linton at linton122@gmail.com.

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