Dr. Kenneth B. Kochmann, a former social worker who became a physician later in life, died March 8 of multiple myeloma at Stella Maris Hospice. He was 63.
The son of German immigrant parents — his father was a traveling salesman and his mother a homemaker — Kenneth B. Kochmann was born in New York City and raised in Port Washington, N.Y., where he graduated in 1967 from Paul D. Schreiber High School.
He earned a bachelor's degree in 1971 in philosophy from Union College in Schenectady, N.Y., and a master's degree in philosophy from the State University of New York at Albany.
From 1971 to 1981, he worked as a social worker in Newark, N.J., and was assigned to Aid to Families with Dependent Children.
In the 1980s, he moved to Baltimore when he took a position with the Social Security Administration's Office of Management and Budget in Woodlawn.
"While in his late 30s, his belief in the positive side of human experience piqued his interest in scientific medicine and research," said a sister, Carol Kochmann of Lincoln, Mass.
"After considering genetic research, he went back to school to study at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, where he was the oldest in the class," said Ms. Kochmann. "This was an amazing feat for the time."
After earning his medical degree in 1991, he opened a family medical practice in the suburbs north of Baltimore until he joined Family Medicine Associates in Timonium, which merged with Mercy Medical Center's Lutherville Personal Physicians two years ago.
Dawn P. Donohue, a family nurse practitioner, worked with Dr. Kochmann for 11 years.
"He was a really special kind of guy. He really cared about his patients," said Ms. Donohue. "His whole focus was always working with them."
Dr. Kochmann was affectionately called "Dr. K" or "Dr. Ken" by his patients.
A decade ago, Dr. Kochmann was diagnosed with the disease that would eventually claim his life.
He completed rounds of chemotherapy followed by double stem-cell transplants. He remained on weekly doses of steroids until his death.
"Yet he never complained, and to the very end, always maintained his puckish sense of humor, affable sunny demeanor, and [was] determined to beat the disease," his sister said.
On Feb. 8, Dr. Kochmann wrote his patients to tell them that he was retiring because of his failing health.
"He worked until three weeks before his death. He had a strong constitution. Many of his patients had no idea that he was ill. He wanted to get back," said Ms. Donohue. "That was his goal. He had fought myeloma many times and bounced back, but not this time. His patients are just devastated."
"Until just a few days before he passed, he desperately wanted to build up strength to take the newly approved drug pomalidomide and regularly remarked that he had just missed the window; that promising new treatments were just around the corner, if only he could hold out," said Ms. Kochmann.
The Cockeysville resident enjoyed the outdoors and taking long walks at Oregon Ridge. He was also an accomplished figure skater and skated at the Northwest Family Sports Center and Mount Pleasant Ice Rink.
"He dabbled in music and composition, convincing himself that his songs, 'Count on Me' and 'Magic Day,' would make him millions," his sister said.
"He loved to eat, labeling himself a glutton, with ketchup a mainstay of his diet," said Ms. Kochmann.
"He took delight in puppets, retro TV shows, small toys and the absurdities of our lives in general," she said.
Dr. Kochmann was also an avid reader of medical books and science magazines. He was learning Hebrew on his deathbed, his sister said.
Services were March 14 at Sol Levinson and Bros.
In addition to his sister, Dr. Kochmann is survived by his father, Kurt Kochmann of Woodbury, N.Y.; another sister, Jill Blumkin of Greenlawn, N.Y.; and three nieces.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun