Dr. Theodore H. Kaiser, a pediatrician and psychiatrist who was the founder and director of the division of child psychiatry at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, died Aug. 5 of a heart attack while vacationing in Bethany Beach, Del. The longtime Pikesville resident was 86.
The son of a real estate executive and a homemaker, Theodore Herbert Kaiser was born in New York City and raised in Brooklyn.
After graduating from high school when he was 15, he entered the Johns Hopkins University. From 1943 to 1945, he attended Hopkins on an honors scholarship.
"He applied early and was accepted to Johns Hopkins medical school, which he attended from 1945 to 1949, when he received his medical degree," said his son, Dr. Robert M. Kaiser, a geriatrician who lives in Pikesville.
"He was later officially awarded his bachelor's degree on May 21, 1992, at the annual commencement ceremony at Hopkins, which recognized several people like my father who went to undergraduate school during World War II and entered graduate programs early," said his son.
He completed a pediatric internship at Hopkins Hospital in 1950 and a pediatric residency, also at the hospital, in 1953, where he was chief resident of the Harriet Lane Pediatric Outpatient Service.
From 1953 to 1955, he served in the Army as a captain and was director of pediatrics at an Army hospital in La Rochelle, France.
After being discharged, he was the first pediatrician to establish a practice in Havre de Grace, his son said.
"He had noted during his pediatric residency at Johns Hopkins that many of the sickest children were coming to Hopkins from Harford County, and he wanted to go there to raise the level of care," his son said.
"He established the Havre de Grace Medical Center, where he practiced pediatrics full time and also brought in part-time specialists from Baltimore in ophthalmology, otolaryngology, orthopedics, dermatology and allergy," his son said.
While serving as chief of pediatrics at Harford Memorial Hospital, Dr. Kaiser was responsible for desegregating the pediatric ward of the hospital so that African-American children could receive the same quality of care as white children.
"He was able to accomplish this in a nonconfrontational way. He also readily accepted African-American children into his practice, which was rare or nonexistent among physicians in Havre de Grace at that time," his son said.
He added: "My father loved children, and he was devoted to them."
Dr. Kaiser decided to obtain additional training in psychiatry after he began encountering many children and families with psychological problems.
He trained at Hopkins Hospital on a National Institutes of Health Fellowship and completed a residency in adult psychiatry at the Phipps Clinic at Hopkins from 1963 to 1965.
From 1965 to 1967, he was a resident in child psychiatry at Hopkins Hospital, training under Dr. Leo Kanner, the father of child psychiatry in the United States.
In 1967, Dr. Kaiser founded the division of child psychiatry at the old City Hospitals, which is now Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center. He served as its director until 1971.
He then established a private practice in child and adolescent psychiatry in Baltimore and specialized in the field of psychiatric problems of children with learning disabilities.
Dr. Kaiser began teaching at the Kennedy Krieger Institute in 1968 and was the consultant for the weekly teaching conference in the neurodevelopmental disabilities residency program. He provided clinical expertise on children with complex medical, psychiatric and learning problems, while teaching fellows and residents.
Dr. Kaiser also held faculty appointments in the departments of pediatrics and psychiatry at Hopkins' School of Medicine and the University of Maryland School of Medicine.
"He was a dedicated teacher and thoroughly professional in all of his interactions, and he was a very dear friend," said Dr. Bruce K. Shapiro, professor of pediatrics and vice president of training at Kennedy Krieger, a friend and colleague for 25 years.
"His approach to treatment was capitalizing on a person's strengths. He would discern what the person could do and then capitalize on that so they could reach their full potential," said Dr. Shapiro.
"Dr. Kaiser was a wonderful mentor and was also a strong supporter of families and parents," said Dr. Shapiro. "He was a very easy person to relate to and over the course of his professional career, he interacted with thousands of trainees."
Dr. Martha B. Denckla, a neurologist at Kennedy Krieger, said, "He was extraordinary. I've been in this field for 40 years, and he was the best child psychiatrist I've worked under. He was an expert in autism, ADHD and other disabilities, and because he had been a pediatrician, was a more practical person."
"He was very pragmatic when it came to interacting with the patients," she said. "If they played chess, he'd play chess with them. If they played Go Fish, he'd play Go Fish. He would not force them to talk, but then they would start to talking. He was a very wise man."
Dr. Kaiser retired several years ago but kept active in his field.
He was an ardent Orioles fan and enjoyed listening to classical music.
Dr. Kaiser was a member of Chizuk Amuno Congregation and was a former member of Beth Am Congregation.
Services were held Aug. 7 at Sol Levinson & Bros.
In addition to his son, he is survived by his wife of 63 years, the former Joan Ruth Kleiman; and a daughter, Susan L. Kaiser of Owings Mills.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun