Dr. Liebe Sokol Diamond, one of the nation’s leading pediatric orthopedic surgeons and an inductee into the Baltimore JCC and Maryland Women’s Halls of Fame, died on May 17. She was 86.
A Baltimore native and Pikesville resident, Sokol Diamond was the only child of Max Sokol, an attorney, and Anne Hirschhorn Sokol, a teacher at what was then known as Baltimore Hebrew College. Her parents were deeply involved in helping Jews in Eastern Europe flee their homelands and resettle in the United States during the 1930s.
Sokol Diamond was born with ring constrictive syndrome, a congenital abnormality. The condition caused her to lose several fingers and toes while in utero. During her infancy and in the years prior to becoming a teenager, she underwent 25 surgical procedures.
Always recognized as a gifted student, Sokol Diamond attended Baltimore City School #49 and Western High School. She enrolled in Smith College at age 16, graduated magna cum laude in 1951 with a degree in chemistry and a double minor in physics and zoology. She received her medical degree from the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine, and became a resident at Sinai Hospital of Baltimore.
Sokol Diamond was the first female resident at the Hospital at the University of Pennsylvania and became its first female orthopedic surgical resident in 1960. Diamond was certified by the American Board of Orthopedic Surgery in 1963.
“In retrospect, maybe some of my rough times were because I was a woman,” Sokol Diamond said in an interview. “We were tolerated, in a physical sense, but I can’t say I was discriminated against in any sense. Out of 200 [interns and residents], there were only five women. You took what was dished out, and you shut up and drank your beer. We all thought that if we made any noise, we’d be kicked out.”
Sokol Diamond’s career was concentrated in the field of hand and limb deformities in children. In particular, she was a noted researcher in this field, particularly in the orthopedic aspects of genetic diseases.
After completing her surgical training, Sokol Diamond was introduced to Dr. Earl L. Diamond, who was working at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health. They were married in 1960 and had a son, Joshua Moses Diamond.
During her career, Sokol Diamond was a co-chair of the State Health Department Advisory subcommittee on the hospitalization of crippled children from 1967-68, and served as an orthopedic consultant to the Jewish Family and Children’s Society.
Her teaching positions included serving as a professor in orthopedic surgery at the University of Maryland from 1961-96 and clinical associate professor in pediatrics there from 1991-96.
Sokol Diamond was renowned in her field for her innovative techniques for correcting limb deformities, and worked as a consultant at Maryland General Hospital, Greater Baltimore Medical Center, Franklin Square Hospital and Union Memorial Hospital.
In 1968, Sokol Diamond became chairman of the board at Baltimore Hebrew University and served in that position for several years. She was inducted into the Maryland Women’s Hall of Fame in 2006.
While working in the field of orthopedic surgery, Sokol Diamond said she found her personal handicap helped when dealing with children and parents facing difficult diagnoses and medical situations. “It takes away some of the aloneness,” she said, “the fear of the future.”
At her Jewish Hall of Fame induction in 2013, Sokol Diamond, a Beth Tfiloh congregant, was hailed as “nationally recognized for her contributions in the field of pediatric orthopedic surgery with her innovative techniques for correcting limb deformities in children.”
Sokol Diamond is survived by her son, Joshua Moses Diamond (Zhanna Glazenburg); and her grandchildren, Maxim Sokol Diamond and Benjamin Abraham Diamond. Funeral services will be held at Beth Tfiloh Congregation, 3300 Old Court Rd., on Friday, May 19, at noon. Interment will be at Arlington Cemetery-Chizuk Amuno Congregation, 4300 N. Rogers Ave.
Contributions in her memory may be sent to Beth Tfiloh Congregation-Diamond Scholarship Fund, 3300 Old Court Rd., Baltimore, Md. 21208, or Sinai Hospital of Baltimore-Diamond Pediatric Residency Program, c/o LifeBridge Health, Department of Development, 2401 W. Belvedere Ave. Baltimore, Md. 21215.
Top photo: Courtesy Maryland State Archives