Dr. Abraham Kremen, 100, led hospital ophthalmology units

August 03, 2005|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,SUN STAFF

Dr. Abraham Kremen, a retired ophthalmologist and former Maryland General Hospital department chairman, died of multiple organ failure Thursday at Roland Park Place, where he had lived for the past eight years. He was 100.

Born and raised in Baltimore, he was a 1923 graduate of City College. Teachers there recognized his musical ability and sent him to piano classes at the Peabody Conservatory, where instructors advised him against becoming a professional musician.

Dr. Kremen earned a Bachelor of Science degree at the Johns Hopkins University and graduated from the University of Maryland School of Medicine.

After a residency in San Francisco and briefly practicing in Indiana, he opened an office on upper Eutaw Place, a part of Reservoir Hill once known as Doctors' Row. He also joined the staff of the old Baltimore Eye, Ear and Throat Hospital there, and studied under one of its staff members, Dr. Jonas Friedenwald.

During World War II, Dr. Kremen joined the Army Medical Corps and became ophthalmology chief at a hospital on Tinian in the Pacific's Northern Mariana Islands. The island was the home air base of the Enola Gay, the B-29 that carried the first atomic bomb.

Dr. Kremen visited and photographed the plane after its return to Tinian, and family members said he kept the photos throughout his life. After the war, he returned to the Eye, Ear and Throat Hospital, where he became chief of staff.

"He was highly regarded as a diagnostician," said his son, David F. Kremen of Pittsburgh. "He took time with his patients, and time didn't mean much to him. His office was often cluttered with people, and my mother, who once acted as his secretary, would call out, `Abe, you've got to hurry up.'"

In the late 1940s, he was active in local liberal Democratic political circles. He joined a committee to abolish the state's Ober Law, which required political officeholders to submit to a loyalty oath.

"He was virulently opposed to the law because he felt it was a breach of the First Amendment, and the idea of a loyalty oath was an infringement on personal freedom," his son said.

In 1965, he became chief of ophthalmology at Maryland General Hospital, after its merger with his hospital. He held the post until 1978, when he ceased the practice of surgery. But Dr. Kremen continued to see patients at his later office at 1111 Park Ave., and then at York Road and Belvedere Avenue in Govans. He retired in 1987.

Dr. Kremen retained his interest in music and was a founding member of the Baltimore Chamber Music Society. He also read widely and attended many musical and theatrical events. He was a contributor to The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore.

Services were held Sunday.

In addition to his son, survivors include a daughter, Paula K. Smith of St. Louis, Mo.; two sisters, Belle Mazer and Esther Mazoh, both of Baltimore, three grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren. His wife of 64 years, the former Leona M. Middleman, died in 1996.

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