Dr. Jerome Koeppel, 75, physician to many judges, lawyers and CEOs

November 09, 2003|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,SUN STAFF

Dr. Jerome Koeppel, a retired internist and endocrinologist, died of complications from cancer Friday at Johns Hopkins Hospital. The Lutherville resident was 75.

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., his college studies were interrupted at age 16 by his service in the Army Air Forces, when he was stationed at the Pentagon. After the end of World War II, he returned to Syracuse University, where he earned a political science degree.

He then became a salesman for his father's Chrysler-Plymouth auto dealership, Airport Motors, near LaGuardia Airport, in Queens, N.Y.

"He soon found out there was more to life than working for his father. He wanted to go out on his own," said his wife of 31 years, the former Marlene Gordon.

He then moved to Baltimore and became the general manager of the old Luby Chevrolet on East Monument Street. "He made Luby the No. 1 dealer in Baltimore, but he decided there was more to life than making money. He decided that medicine would be his calling," his wife said.

In his mid-30s, he returned to school and took pre-med courses at Johns Hopkins and Morgan State universities to learn chemistry and biology. He was accepted at University of Maryland School of Medicine and received his degree in 1969. He interned at its medical center in downtown Baltimore and completed his residency and a fellowship in endocrinology at New York University in Manhattan.

Dr. Koeppel returned to Baltimore in 1975 and established a private practice on West Cold Spring Lane. He also taught clinical medicine at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and was a Sinai Hospital attending physician.

"As a physician, he was ... caring, extremely conscientious regarding the details of his patients' care," said Dr. Martin D. Abeloff, director of the Kimmel Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins Hospital. "He had strong opinions and feelings and a good sense of humor. He also had a tremendous pride in knowing a lot about all aspects of medicine."

Family members said that most days, before his retirement in 2001, he left the house at 6 a.m. and returned home at 9 p.m.

A 1994 Baltimore magazine article said of him, "He makes house calls and has more lawyers, judges and chief executive officers as patients than just about anybody."

"He was a warm and caring physician who had the hospital's -- and his patients' -- best interests at heart," said Neil M. Meltzer, Sinai Hospital's president, who lives in Lutherville. "His contributions will live on."

Family members said he made many friends in Baltimore's medical community.

"Because of his background, he was a doctor with an aptitude and acumen for business. Others in the field of medicine consulted him about how to handle the financial and business side of their practices," his wife said. "And he knew so many famous physicians in their field, he could walk into their offices and immediately get an appointment for his patients."

Family members said he was a family friend of former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani and once escorted him into Hopkins for an examination related to his prostate cancer. Despite Dr. Koeppel's precautions of ushering the mayor through a service entrance, Mr. Giuliani was immediately recognized by hospital employees.

Dr. Koeppel was a member of Beth El Congregation, 8101 Park Heights Ave., where services will be held at 1 p.m. today.

In addition to his wife, he is survived by a son, John L. Koeppel of New York City; three daughters, Claudia Koeppel Levitas of Atlanta, Dr. Lisa Abrams, a pediatric ophthalmologist of Baltimore, and Gabrielle Koeppel of Washington; two brothers, Howard Koeppel and Daniel Koeppel, both of New York City; and eight grandchildren.

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