William A. Niermann

Pediatrician And Allergist Was An Old-school Doctor Who Was Proud Of Treating Three Generations Of Area Families

November 27, 2009|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,jacques.kelly@baltsun.com

Dr. William A. Niermann, a retired pediatrician and allergist who treated patients for nearly five decades, died in his sleep of heart failure Nov. 13 aboard a cruise ship returning to Florida. He was 84 and lived in Towson.

Dr. Niermann was the son of a pharmacist and grew up in Huntington, W.Va. He attended the Medical College of Virginia School of Pharmacy and its School of Medicine. Family members said that because of a demand for physicians during World War II, he completed medical school in three years and graduated in 1948.

Dr. Niermann moved to Baltimore and completed his internship and residency at the old University Hospital. He befriended Dr. Gibson Wells, a Baltimore pediatrician who was looking for a partner in his private practice. They practiced together in Woodbrook for nearly 30 years.

"He was always fond of the fact that he treated three generations of families over the course of his career," said his son, William A. Niermann Jr. of Timonium. "A 15-year-old he treated in the 1950s would bring her daughter to see him in the 1970s, and then she would bring her daughter to see him in the 1990s. This always gave him great joy."

In 1950, shortly after the outset of the Korean War, Dr. Niermann enlisted in the Air Force. He was stationed at Hunter Air Force Base in Savannah, Ga., and was a flight surgeon for the air wing and chief pediatrician at Hunter Base Hospital. He left military service as a captain.

In 1953, Dr. Niermann returned to Baltimore and began practicing pediatrics with Dr. Wells. Over time, Dr. Niermann became increasingly interested in the developing field of pediatric allergies. His practice evolved and he treated children and adults for allergy-related conditions.

"During the golden age of medicine my father loved to make house calls," said his son. "He was an outgoing, old-school doctor who loved to tell stories. He recalled once trying to examine a child whose brother came up behind him and bit him on the ankle."

During the 1960s, a close friend, Carroll "Reds" Rathell, introduced Dr. Niermann to the Boumi Temple, the Baltimore chapter of the Shriner's organization.

He became active in the Masonic group and served on its Boumi Divan. He was also the 1976 Illustrious Potentate of Boumi Temple.

"He was always very proud of the fact that his year as potentate coincided with the nation's bicentennial year," said his son.

He remained active in the organization until his death.

After 50 years of practicing pediatrics and allergy medicine, Dr. Niermann retired several years ago.

Dr. Niermann, who had lived in Ruxton, most recently lived at the Blakehurst Retirement Community in Towson.

Services were held Tuesday at St. Stephen's Traditional Episcopal Church, where he was a member.

In addition to his son, survivors include a daughter, Lindy N. Quesenbery of Charleston, S.C.; two granddaughters; and two great-grandchildren. His wife of 29 years, the former Nancy deWolf Wehr, died in 2004.

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