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In Memoriam: Johns Hopkins Pediatrics Champion Robert Garrett

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Robert Garrett

April 09, 2014

Investment banker Robert “Rob” Garrett, chairman of The Robert Garrett Fund for the Surgical Treatment of Children at Johns Hopkins, died March 13, 2014, in New York City. He was 77. 

Garrett was a descendant of a long succession of champions of child health whose unwavering support of the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center has fueled both clinical achievements and scientific advances. 

“Rob was a remarkable, insightful man and a very generous and enthusiastic supporter of our mission to protect the lives and futures of children,” says Johns Hopkins Children’s Center Director George Dover. “We shall miss him. His leadership and instincts were impeccable. He, his family and all who have shepherded the Garrett Fund over successive generations deserve our enduring gratitude.” 

Established in 1936 by the will of Mary Frick Garrett Jacobs, in memory of her first husband, Robert Garrett – former president of the Baltimore and Ohio (B&O) Railroad and a trustee of the Johns Hopkins University, the Garrett Fund has long supported the pediatric surgical program at Johns Hopkins. In the early 1940s, the fund helped support the seminal research of surgeon Alfred Blalock, who in tandem with pediatric cardiologist Helen Taussig and surgical technician Vivien Thomas pioneered a life-saving cardiac procedure for children born with a devastating heart defect. Together they transformed the field of pediatric cardiology. The first director of pediatric surgery as a specialty at Johns Hopkins, Alex Haller, M.D., who was appointed in 1965, and his successors have held the position of the Robert Garrett Professor of Pediatric Surgery at the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center. The fund was also instrumental in the eventual establishment of the nation’s first pediatric shock trauma program in 1973. 

In addition to its enduring stewardship of the pediatric surgical program at Johns Hopkins, the Garrett Fund and its board have helped ensure the continued development of the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center, founded as the Harriet Lane Home for Invalid Children in 1912. In the 1950s, under the leadership of Rob Garrett’s father, Harrison Garrett, the Garrett Fund board joined forces with the boards of The Hospital for the Consumptives of Maryland (“Eudowood”) and The Harriet Lane Home for Invalid Children of Baltimore City to underwrite construction of Johns Hopkins’ Children's Medical and Surgical Center building, completed in 1964. In 2003, under Rob Garrett’s leadership, the Garrett Fund joined forces again with those two boards and others, to help finance construction of today’s state-of-the-art Charlotte R. Bloomberg Children’s Center building, which opened in 2012. 

The Garrett family itself has been affiliated with Johns Hopkins since the 1800s. John Work Garrett, Rob Garrett’s great-great-grandfather, was instrumental in persuading Johns Hopkins to earmark his fortune of $7 million for the establishment of Johns Hopkins University in 1876. John Work Garrett’s daughter, Mary Elizabeth Garrett, played a key role in the creation of the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. 

Born in Morristown, N.J., in 1937, the son of the late Grace and Harrison Garrett of Baltimore, Rob Garrett was a member of the distinguished Baltimore family that has been one of the most generous supporters of Johns Hopkins for many generations. A graduate of the Gilman School, Princeton University, and the Harvard Business School, Garrett spent three years in Germany as a First Lieutenant in the U.S. Army. He then moved to New York City in 1965 where he pursued a career in investment banking, which included reactivating his family’s 150-year-old merchant banking firm, Robert Garrett & Sons. Throughout his career, Garrett served on multiple boards, including those of The Abell Foundation, Continental Airlines, C.R. Gibson, the Adirondack Council, the New York Botanical Garden, and the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center, where he was a member of its National Advisory Board. 

At the time of his death, Rob Garrett was a founding member of Media Advisory Partners, a financial advisory firm. 

Rob Garrett is survived by his wife of 48 years, Jacqueline Marlas Garrett; sons Robert Garrett, Jr. and Johnson Garrett; four grandchildren; brothers Thomas Harrison Garrett, M.D., and James Rea Garrett, and a sister, Julia Garrett Fox.


Founded in 1912 as the children's hospital at Johns Hopkins, the Johns Hopkins Children's Center offers one of the most comprehensive pediatric medical programs in the country, with more than 92,000 patient visits and nearly 9,000 admissions each year. The Johns Hopkins Children's Center is Maryland's largest children's hospital and the only state-designated Trauma Service and Burn Unit for pediatric patients. It has recognized Centers of Excellence in dozens of pediatric subspecialties, including allergy, cardiology, cystic fibrosis, gastroenterology, nephrology, neurology, neurosurgery, oncology, pulmonary, and transplant. For more information, visit

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