March is Women’s History Month. Ocean City is filled with rich history, and of course, women’s history. To celebrate, we went searching for an extraordinary women who left an impact on these shores.
Dr. Marcia Van Gilder Smith did something extraordinary at age 25- she opened her own doctor’s office. What makes it even more head-turning is the year- 1924.
“She was certainly a legend and way ahead of her time as a doctor,” said Fred Miller, historian.
According to an Ocean City Gazette article dated January 19, 2000, Marcia graduated from Tuckahoe High School in 1916. She went on to graduate from Temple College (now University) in 1920 and then from the Women’s Medical College of Pennsylvania in 1922.
“It was rare up until the ’60s. There weren’t that many [women] becoming doctors, that’s for sure. She was amazing,” Fred said.
She focused on treating ill patients as well as delivering babies, according to the Gazette story.
Marcia was the beach patrol doctor- what would be probably be known today as the medic.
“She’s definitely a legendary local,” Fred said.
Marcia opened her doctor’s office at 821 Wesley Avenue as a part of Doctor’s Row.
“It’s part of the historic district,” said Fred.
She married Chris Montagna after treating his mother. He went on to open Chris’ Restaurant, which was located at the bottom of the 9th Street Bridge, Ocean City.
Marcia supported many humanitarian causes, including supporting Israel financially after the war.
“She was helping Israel out in the early days of Israel. She wasn’t Jewish but they appreciated her support,” said Fred.
There’s a monument in honor of her at Veteran’s Park, 6th and Ocean Avenue.
She died in 1995 at the age of 96.
Want to learn more about notable Ocean City figures to celebrate women’s history month? Check out Fred Miller’s book- Legendary Locals of Ocean City, available at Sun Rose Words & Music.