Beatrice Phyllis Troyan, 98, of Philadelphia, a trailblazing obstetrician and gynecologist, died Friday, April 23, of breast cancer at home.
“She was a dedicated physician throughout her whole life. That was her main thing,” said her son Douglas Kligman.
But while her career was a major part of her life, it was not all that defined her.
“She was multifaceted. She did a lot in life,” her son said. “She had an incredible amount of energy. She walked fast, she moved quickly. She was a person who was always moving, doing things.”
The only child of Russian Jewish immigrants Harry and Molly Troyan, Dr. Troyan grew up in the Fairmount section of Philadelphia. She was a frequent visitor to the nearby Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Free Library of Philadelphia, where she nurtured what would become a lifelong love of art and reading.
Dr. Troyan graduated early from Philadelphia High School for Girls and at 16 entered the University of Pennsylvania, where, according to her son, she prepared for medical school. It had been a dream since she was 4. In her spare time, she pursued fencing and singing.
During World War II, she entered what was then Hahnemann Medical College, as one of only five women in the first class to admit females. She latergraduated with honors and went on to complete her residency at Hahnemann in obstetrics and gynecology because a general surgery residency was not an option for women, her family said.
Dr. Troyan later served as a faculty and staff member at Hahnemann, delivering countless babies and training many obstetric residents and fellows. In addition, in the 1950s, she ran a fertility clinic. And in the 1970s, she was project director of the Maternal and Infant Care program at Crozer-Chester Medical Center, where she cared for underserved women and babies.
“That was definitely her choice,” said her son, adding that she could have commanded a higher salary working elsewhere and caring for more affluent patients.
When the funding for that position ran out, he said, she became an assistant medical director for a telephone company in Philadelphia, where she finished her career.
Dr. Troyan had many interests and activities beyond her medical career. A supporter of the arts, she loved opera as well as folk and square dancing. She studied visual art at the original Barnes Foundation, drawing and painting her own works.
And she traveled the world, although her son said she did not fancy herself a tourist.
“She was very curious about the world,” he said.
In one of her trips, she traveled to China with a group of fellow doctors in the 1970s to observe and interact with Chinese colleagues in what was then an early opportunity for cultural exchange.
Dr. Troyan was also an early supporter and lifelong advocate for women’s reproductive rights and social justice in general, donating to many charitable causes.
She had a rich social life as well.
“She had many, many friends, even late in life,” her son said. Just about nightly, she would chat with friends by phone, including one childhood pal who was over 100. And, her son said, she remained enthusiastic about her hometown: “She was a tried-and-true Philadelphian.”
In addition to her son, Dr. Troyan is survived by a daughter, Gail; a son, Michael; four grandchildren; and other relatives.
A service was held Thursday, April 29.
Donations in her memory can be made to Doctors Without Borders. P.O. Box 5030, Hagerstown, Md. 21741-5030 or at email@example.com.