Dr. Fritz Kobler, a Vienna-born psychiatrist who fled the Nazis in Austria and the Communists in China, died Saturday at St. Agnes HealthCare after suffering a stroke May 20. He was 90 and had lived in Catonsville for 40 years.
Dr. Kobler was clinical director at the state's Springfield Hospital Center in Sykesville from the mid-1960s until the early 1980s. He moved to Maryland from Kentucky in 1962 and worked as a psychiatrist for several years at Spring Grove Hospital Center in Catonsville, also a state mental institution.
After retiring at 72, he was a consultant for the Social Security Administration.
Dr. Kobler received his medical training in psychiatry and neurology at the University of Vienna. When his father died soon after returning from World War I, Dr. Kobler began supporting his family.
In 1938, during the Nazi regime, his mother sent him to China to seek a better life. He stayed for 14 years, learning Mandarin in order to teach psychiatry and neurology classes at National Central University Medical College in Szechwan and Nanking.
Dr. Kobler recently received a letter from former students there, telling him of a ceremony in his honor, said his daughter, Sonja Kobler Rose of London.
While in China, Dr. Kobler worked for the Red Cross with the Hong Kong South China Relief Association and at the British Methodist Hospital in Kwangtung Province.
In Nanking, he married Aideh Wu, a physician, who survives him. In 1952, the couple and their infant son fled from the Communist regime with the help of the Jewish Relief Agency, which paid for an ocean trip around Africa and his journey to Vienna.
Dr. Kobler stayed in Vienna for 10 years before deciding to emigrate to the United States, said his son, Benjamin Kobler of Columbia.
The Koblers became U.S. citizens in 1968.
For most of his life, Dr. Kobler sought news of his mother and sister, who disappeared after he left Vienna in 1938. He learned a few years ago that they were killed in 1942 at a concentration camp in Minsk in modern-day Belarus.
"He was concerned about the fates of his mother and sister," said Dr. Robert Fisher of Pikesville, a retired physician who was a resident at Spring Grove in 1967 when he met Dr. Kobler. He helped Dr. Kobler in his search for his family.
Dr. Kobler wrote a novel in 1978, "The Paper Man," about a bored bureaucrat who sets off a comic but frightening technological nightmare for the hero. His poem "The Empty Loneliness" appeared in the National Library of Poetry's 1993 volume, "Where Dreams Begin." He enjoyed Viennese music, opera, mathematics and poetry.
Dr. Kobler was a member of the Baltimore County Medical Association, the Medical and Chirurgical Faculty of Maryland, the American Psychiatric Association and the American Medical Association.
He also belonged to the American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors and The Associated -- Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore.
Dr. Kurt Glaser of Sykesville, a colleague of Dr. Kobler's, was director of the adolescent unit at Springfield from 1972 to 1981. He also was born in Vienna and fled the Nazis in 1938.
"He was a person upon whom one could rely 100 percent. What he said was it, and that was one thing I very much respected -- especially since he was my boss," Dr. Glaser said. "We had a good relationship. I could come to him when I had problems, and he would help me."
"He drove and did the food shopping two days before his stroke," said Mrs. Rose, his daughter. "It is so sad and ironic that our father, a workaholic, studied the brain, always joked that he needed a new brain, and finally died of a hemorrhage in the brain."
Services were yesterday.
Dr. Kobler also is survived by six grandchildren.