John E. Bordley was born at the Johns Hopkins Hospital, of an old Baltimore family with a strong tradition of medicine at Johns Hopkins. His father was a member of the Johns Hopkins Department of Ophthalmology and his brother was trained in surgery. He attended the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, graduating in 1925, and took his residency training under Samuel J. Crowe, M.D. at the Johns Hopkins Hospital.
His surgical internship was served with distinction in Australia, New Guinea and the Philippines, meriting three battle stars for his service in the Pacific theater.
After separating from the Service and returning to Baltimore he was appointed Director of the Department of Otolaryngology in June 1952, succeeding Doctor Crowe in that post.
As Otolaryngologist-in-charge at the Johns Hopkins Hospital, he became the second person to hold this prestigious position and the first full-time Chairman of the Department of Otolaryngology in June of 1952. He was also designated the Andelot Professor of Otolaryngology. His teaching at Hopkins spanned 35 years. His work in developing the department was phenomenal. He ran a strong clinical service, and developed an extensive research program, which had an extremely broad base.
Both produced much valuable material and in addition, trained young people who continued in research at Hopkins and other institutions.
In collaboration with William G. Hardy, Ph.D. of the Hearing and Speech Clinic at the Johns Hopkins Hospital, he developed an interdisciplinary approach to the treatment of hearing and speech disabilities. The program developed a firm cooperation between medical care, audiological and speech services which was so successful that Boystown solicited and obtained his cooperation in developing the equally successful Boystown National Institute for Communicative Disorders in Children.
Dr. Bordley's research included physiological, experimental and clinical studies on deafness, communications, and rubella (both epidemiological and anatomical studies) and its relation to hearing loss. He participated in the first studies assessing the effectiveness of steroids on allergic rhinitis and nasal polyps and a host of other subjects relevant to the care of the otolaryngological patient. His special interest was always the "rehabilitation of the deaf." Dr. Bordley was succeed by Dr. George Nager.