Kurt Glaser, psychiatry professor

Doctor who fled the Nazis was an expert in youth psychiatry and taught at UM medical school

November 22, 2009|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | fred.rasmussen@baltsun.com

Kurt Glaser, a retired former associate professor of pediatrics and assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and former director of adolescent services at Springfield Hospital Center in Sykesville, died Nov. 13 of pancreatic cancer at the Fairhaven retirement community in Sykesville.

The former Pikesville resident, who had lived at the retirement community since 1993, was 94.

Dr. Glaser, the son of a merchant and a homemaker, was born in Vienna, Austria, and raised in Innsbruck, Austria, where he was a graduate of the Bundesreal Gymnasium.

He attended the University of Vienna medical school from 1933 to 1938, when he fled the Nazis, settling in Switzerland, where he completed his medical education at the University of Lausanne in 1939.

Dr. Glaser, whose father was killed by the Nazis and whose mother and brother immigrated to Palestine, came to Philadelphia in 1939.

He completed his internship at St. Mary's of Nazareth Hospital in Chicago in 1941 and a residency a year later at Jewish Hospital in Louisville, Ky., and an assistant pediatric residency in 1943 at General Hospital, also in Louisville.

From 1943 to 1945, he was chief resident in pediatrics at Children's Hospital in Milwaukee, and a pediatric resident at Children's Memorial Hospital in Chicago.

Dr. Glaser was an instructor in pediatrics at the University of Illinois College of Medicine from 1945 to 1950, and from 1950 to 1954 was assistant chief physician in pediatrics at Hadassah University Hospital in Jerusalem.

In 1954, he moved to Baltimore when he was appointed assistant professor in pediatrics at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, a position he held until 1962. Concurrently, he was an instructor in psychiatry at the medical school until 1965.

From 1957 to 1961, he was acting director of the mental hygiene clinic for children, also at the medical school.

Dr. Glaser was clinical director at what became the Rosewood Center in Owings Mills from 1961 to 1972, when he was named director of adolescent services at Springfield Hospital Center.

"He was one of the first to address adolescent suicide that masked as depression in adolescents," said a son, Rick Glaser of Owings Mills.

Nancy B. Gardner, a clinical social worker, became acquainted with Dr. Glaser during her years at Springfield.

"He was simply A-1, whether it was doing his job or in his capacity as a teacher. He also had a beautiful sense of humor, which often doesn't go with his background," said Mrs. Gardner, who retired in 1985 from Brook Lane, a private psychiatric hospital near Hagerstown.

"He was an expert in the field of child and adolescent psychiatry, and also a man of tremendous determination and courage, which went along with his many other attributes," she said. "I saw him work with the most violent patients in the adolescent unit, and I saw how they came to love him and how he brought them around."

Robert L. Derbyshire, a retired social psychologist who had been in practice in Towson, got to know Dr. Glaser professionally in 1957.

"We were both colleagues at the University of Maryland at the same time. He was a wonderful man. He saved my life," said Dr. Derbyshire, who now lives in Lady Lake, Fla.

"I was very depressed as a young man. I was suicidal, and he helped me and my family. He got me half-sane," Dr. Derbyshire said with a quick laugh.

"Kurt had a sense of knowing what to say and when to say it, and when to be quiet and listen," he said. "He was very intuitive about human beings and their needs."

Dr. Derbyshire added: "He was a man you could speak with. He never cared about what you thought or who you were. He was simply a very fine man."

In addition to his work at Rosewood and Springfield, Dr. Glaser was assistant professor in pediatrics and psychiatry at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine from 1972 to 1981 and was a staff psychiatrist at Sheppard and Enoch Pratt Hospital from 1981 to 1985.

He was a member of numerous professional associations, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, Maryland Psychiatric Society, Maryland Society for Adolescent Psychiatry and the American Society for Adolescent Psychiatry.

Dr. Glaser enjoyed traveling, reading and attending performances at Center Stage.

"He was still reading professional literature up to the end of his life," his son said. "Work and his family consumed his life."

His wife of 55 years, the former Susanne Stein, died in 2002.

Services were held Nov. 15.

Also surviving are three other sons, Dan Glaser of Silver Spring, David Glaser of Glen Rock, N.J., and Ben Glaser of Jerusalem; 13 grandchildren; and four great-grandsons.

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