Dr. Henry Sawyer Mayer, 74, of Berwyn, a cardiologist and leader at Bryn Mawr Hospital, died Thursday, Jan. 16, of complications from Parkinson’s disease at Sunrise Senior Living of Newtown Square.
Born in Abington to Donald Franklin Mayer and Vera Jane Sawyer Mayer, he grew up in Wyncote and graduated from Cheltenham High School in 1963.
At age 21, while working at a summer camp on Deer Isle, Maine, he met Mary Elizabeth Nelson. Both were counselors. They married in 1969 and had three children.
Known as “Hank,” Dr. Mayer earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Denison University in 1967. While there, he pledged Kappa Sigma Fraternity and joined ROTC.
He followed in his father’s footsteps by pursuing a career in medicine. After graduating from the University of Michigan Medical School in 1971, he enlisted in the Air Force, becoming a captain and flight surgeon assigned to air bases in San Antonio and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.
He completed a medical residency at the University of Michigan Hospital and moved with his family to St. Davids in 1978 to join the cardiology department at Bryn Mawr Hospital. He became a partner in the Bryn Mawr Medical Specialists Association and then president of the physician group.
Later in his career, he was the hospital’s chief of internal medicine, president of the medical staff, and finally vice president of medical affairs before retiring in 2014 for health reasons.
He dedicated his time to expanding the echocardiography laboratory and creating the Main Line Health network’s cardiac care rehabilitation unit in 1985.
“He helped launch that,” said Andrea Gilbert, the hospital’s president. “He was very passionate about the program and was its medical director for the duration. The unit became the leading cardiac rehab pacesetter for the Main Line Health network."
In addition to practicing cardiology, Dr. Mayer conducted flight physicals for pilots throughout his career.
As a clinician, Dr. Mayer was much loved, Gilbert said. “He enjoyed the personal lives of patients, and his patients loved him back because he spent the time getting to know them as people.” His humor and easygoing manner put his patients at ease, his family said in a statement.
In March 2013, through the efforts of Dr. Mayer, the hospital received a $10 million donation from Swiss entrepreneur and philanthropist Hansjörg Wyss. The gift was the largest by a single donor ever given to the hospital, Gilbert said. The two men were friends.
The money was targeted to execute the hospital’s vision of a primary care medical center and to recruit primary care physicians for the project, partly by funding a loan-assistance program for those facing large amounts of student debt.
“That wouldn’t have happened without Dr. Mayer,” Gilbert said.
As a hospital leader, Dr. Mayer also was committed to continuing medical education for staff, bringing in lecturers and offering courses, Gilbert said.
In retirement, he looked for a way to stay involved at the hospital as a volunteer. He chose sitting at the front reception desk, welcoming patients. “He was a special guy. Not many doctors would do that,” Gilbert said.
Dr. Mayer was a member of the trophy committee at the Devon Horse Show, which benefits the hospital. He was an assistant for Radnor Scout Troup 284 and served on the Radnor Township Board of Health and the Radnor Fire Company’s ambulance committee for many years.
He enjoyed boating, fly fishing, and Scout trips to a ranch in New Mexico. Later in life, he focused on travel, fine wine, golf, and woodworking.
He and his wife were members of the Wayne Presbyterian Church.
Besides his wife, he is survived by children Christopher Mayer, Rebecca Knutsen, and Timothy Mayer; three grandchildren; a brother; and many nieces and nephews.
Plans for a memorial service were pending. Burial will be private.