American Medical Biographies/Beyer, Henry Gustav

Beyer, Henry Gustav (1850–1918)

Rear Admiral Henry Gustav Beyer, Medical Director, U. S. Navy retired, aged 68, died at his home in Washington, December 10, 1918. Dr. Beyer was born in Saxony, Germany, October 28, 1850, received his preliminary education and took a course in pharmacy in Germany and then entered Bellevue Hospital Medical College, from which he was graduated in 1876. He received the M. R. C. S. degree in London in 1881 and was given the degree of Ph.D. by Johns Hopkins University in 1887. He entered the Navy as assistant surgeon, immediately on graduation, was made passed assistant surgeon in 1880, surgeon in 1893, medical inspector in 1905 and medical director in 1910 and rear admiral, February 27, 1911, and was retired on attaining the age of 62 years, October 28, 1912.

Dr. Beyer was married in 1880 to Harriet W. Wescott, of Portland, Maine. They had two sons. She died in 1891.

During his 36 years of service in the Navy he had twelve years and ten months of sea service, and three years on special duty at the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, and was on special duty in Washington for two years. He was professor of hygiene in the Naval Medical School, Washington, from 1904 to 1912 and was also lecturer on naval hygiene in the War College, Newport, Rhode Island. He was a member of the Association of Military Surgeons of the United States, National Society for the Study and Prevention of Tuberculosis, American Public Health Association and American Association of Pathologists and Bacteriologists, and was a prolific contributor to medicomilitary literature.

Dr. Beyer wrote frequently for the Military Surgeon and the U. S. Naval Medical Bulletin. His linguistic ability lead to his being called upon often by these publications for reviews and translations of foreign scientific publications. He contributed the chapter on Food in the "Handbook of Hygiene for Men of War" edited by Verth, Bentmann, Dirksen and Ruge and published at Jena, 1914.

Dr. Beyer was a man of very marked and striking personality. His German birth and training predisposed him to the accurate and painstaking methods essential for scientific research and he had in addition an enormous capacity for work and a vitalizing enthusiasm for the subjects in which he was most interested—hygiene and sanitation. Beneath a naturally stiff formal manner, accentuated by military life, there was a heart of infinite kindness which responded to every appeal.

The last four years of his life were saddened by the conflict raging between his native land and the land of his adoption and he became more and more reserved, shrinking into himself like one overpowered by emotions too complex and stirring to be put into words. One cannot help feeling that his marked depression of spirits contributed in a measure to his death which may be reckoned as one more of those indirect misfortunes attributable to the attack of Germany on the world.