Dr. Hans J. Koetter, 77, specialized in family medicine

March 08, 2003|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

Dr. Hans Joachim Koetter, a physician who specialized in family medicine, died of complications from a stroke Monday at Union Memorial Hospital. He was 77.

Dr. Koetter was born in Frankfurt, Germany, and was raised in Dresden. During World War II, he was conscripted into the German army and served as an infantryman on the Eastern front, where he was wounded.

After the war, he attended the University of Frankfurt Medical School, where he earned his medical degree in 1951. He completed internships at the 97th U.S. Army Hospital and University Hospital, both in Frankfurt. In 1954, he completed a residency in anesthesia and physical medicine, also at Frankfurt's University Hospital.

After immigrating to the United States in 1955, he earned his residency in general surgery at Hazelton State Hospital in Pennsylvania in 1956. He completed a residency in orthopedic surgery at Watts Hospital in Durham, N.C., in 1957.

Moving to Baltimore in the late 1950s, Dr. Koetter established a family practice in Northeast Baltimore. In 1975, he established a medical association with Dr. Marc I. Leavey. Since the 1980s, their practice has been located in the Osler Building at St. Joseph Medical Center.

"He certainly had an intense interest in the welfare of his patients, and late into his career continued making house calls. He was always interested in what was going on in his patient's lives," said Dr. Leavey.

"He was a very personable man, yet he had a patrician bearing which spoke to his European upbringing. However, he was far from being aloof," he said.

Dr. Koetter's practice spanned generations of families.

"His life was consumed by the practice of medicine," said Gary H. Siebert of Towson, a longtime friend and patient. "I have never seen him stymied by a medical problem. If he didn't know what to do, he'd go out and find a solution. He'd never let go."

Mr. Siebert said Dr. Koetter was adored by his patients.

"He was a man who took pride in his profession, and that meant making time for his patients. Some of his older patients just liked to drop by and talk, and he'd listen. He was totally focused."

"People used to always tell me it was great having a dad for a doctor," said a daughter, Alyssia K. Essig of Cedarcroft, with a laugh. "It had its pluses and minuses -- one being that we couldn't fake an illness and stay home from school."

Dr. Koetter had been a clinical assistant professor in the family medicine division of the University of Maryland School of Medicine in the early 1970s. From 1976 until 1978, he was president of the Maryland Academy of Family Physicians.

He retired in 1995.

He was an avid grower of roses and collector of beer steins, which he displayed in his Roland Park home and later in Timonium, where he was living at the time of his death.

Dr. Koetter also enjoyed photographing flowers, landscapes and architectural scenes. For many years, he maintained a darkroom in his home where he developed his pictures.

His three marriages ended in divorce.

Dr. Koetter was a communicant of Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ Roman Catholic Church in Timonium, where a Mass of Christian burial was offered yesterday.

Dr. Koetter is survived by a son, Thomas P. Koetter of Canton, Ga.; two other daughters, Bettina M. Koetter of Cedarcroft and Cornelia M. Koetter of Ruxton; two brothers, Rolf Koetter of Frankfurt and Horst Koetter of Munich; and five grandchildren.

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