Margaret June Roberts Abernathy

Friday, March 20, 2009

Margaret R. Abernathy, 82, a neurologist who was the first director of the breast cancer screening center at Georgetown
University Medical Center, died March 16 of a cerebral aneurysm at Crozer-Chester Medical Center in Upland, Pa. She
moved from Vienna to Swarthmore, Pa., in 2000.

Dr. Abernathy, who fulfilled a lifelong goal by becoming a doctor in her late 30s, spent 30 years with Georgetown's
neurology department. She was considered a pioneer in the use of infrared thermography, or heat-based imaging, to
detect breast cancer and cerebrovascular disease. She was a founding member of the American Academy of
Thermology and lectured worldwide about her medical specialty.

She retired from Georgetown in the mid-1990s and maintained a private practice in Vienna until 2000.

Margaret June Roberts was born in Washington and graduated from
McKinley Technical High School. She
graduated from Catholic University in 1947 with a bachelor's degree in music and taught briefly in D.C. public schools.

She also taught music education at Catholic University, did graduate study in music at Northwestern University, and
composed and published several works of music in the 1940s and 1950s.

Dr. Abernathy received her medical degree in 1964 from the Medical College of Virginia in Richmond (now the medical
school of Virginia Commonwealth University).

She and her husband established Georgetown's "empty-nest" plan, in which faculty members provided housing for
medical students. Several medical students stayed at their home in Vienna over the years.

Her husband of 54 years, Thomas Bradford "Brad" Abernathy, died in 2002.

Survivors include three daughters, Mary Seal of Albuquerque and Anne O'Rourke and Catherine Abernathy, both of
Swarthmore; and three grandchildren.

-- Matt Schudel