Timothy R. Townsend, MD

Class Year




Posted on: January 19, 2021

Timothy Robert Townsend, 78, of Charlottesville, Virginia, passed away on Christmas Day, Friday, December 25, 2020.

Tim was born on October 30, 1942, in Lincoln, Nebraska to the late Gertrude and Terry Townsend.

Tim was a brilliant and dedicated pediatrician specializing in infectious disease and epidemiology. He began his medical studies at the University of Virginia where he got his MD and met the love of his life, his wife, Anu. She, above all else, was his anchor and his delight. Through their 53 years together, they partnered to build family, friendship and space for Tim to do his important work. He worked with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Project HOPE to improve public health around the world. He spent more than 30 years of his career at the Johns Hopkins Hospital, in Baltimore, Maryland rising to Director of Medicine. Over his career he helped to eradicate Small Pox, discover the cause of Legionnaires’ Disease, improve immunization and other preventive practices against Hepatitis B, as well as treat and support children with AIDS. He was a calming voice in the early panic around HIV and AIDS, and was published in many medical journals, notably the New England Journal of Medicine for his research on the overuse of antibiotics in hospitals. At the core of his work was always teaching. He was a mentor and teacher of many doctors and nurses through the years.

Tim was also passionate about music. He played the trumpet and the guitar and sang with the church choir. He frequently attended and volunteered as an usher for the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and since returning to Charlottesville, loved the Tuesday Night Concert Series at UVA. He was an avid reader. His brother loves to tell the tale of how Tim read all 28 volumes of the World Book Encyclopedia at least 3 times as a child. He also found solace, especially in recent years as his health began to decline, in the beauty of the surrounding landscapes. He loved a drive through the Blue Ridge Mountains.

He will be remembered by his family and friends for his gentle presence, tenacity and often stubbornness when he had a goal in his sights, wise advice and support, and unfaltering generosity.

Tim leaves behind his beloved wife, Anu Voorand Townsend; his daughters, Helgi and Krista Townsend and their partners Vincent Townsend, Heather Caudill, and Zachary Munzenrider; his grandchildren Harper and Shepherd Townsend, and Owen, Griffin, and Wren Munzenrider. He is also survived by his older and taller brother, Warren Townsend.

A celebration of Timothy’s life will be held in the spring when the family and friends can be outside and plant a tree in his honor.