Dr. Jerome S. Lenet, a retired podiatrist who maintained a neighborhood practice for 53 years, died of congestive heart failure Friday at Sinai Hospital. The Pikesville resident was 88.
Born and raised in New York City, he skipped several years of school and graduated from high school at 15. He studied at St. John's University and earned a degree from the Ohio College of Podiatric Medicine in Cleveland.
He moved to Baltimore in 1940 and established a medical practice on East Monument Street near the Northeast Market. In 1964, he relocated his office to Belair Road and Frankford Avenue, where he saw patients until retiring in 1993.
"Though he treated the foot, it was the individual - and their overall well-being - that was of the most concern to him," said his son, Dr. Marc D. Lenet, who joined his father's practice in 1970 and remains active in it. "He also took a great interest in the family of his patients and their personal issues."
His second son, Gary R. Lenet, who lives in Owings Mills, recalled that on Wednesdays his father scheduled house calls. During the summer in the late 1950s and 1960s, he accompanied his father, who then drove a Plymouth Fury around Northeast Baltimore.
"I sat in the car or on the porch while my father saw his patients. In between these visits, he instilled in me the importance and the virtues of caring for people," his son, Gary, said. "He was never swayed by what everybody else said was important. He'd say [that] it's not important what your friends are doing. It's what you think is right."
His sons described Dr. Lenet as the family patriarch. They said he liked to preside at meals. He sat at the head of the table, raised a glass and toasted his family and celebrated their individualities.
"To him, a dinner was not just an occasion to eat," Gary Lenet said. "It was an event with lots of conversation between each course. He'd order an appetizer first so there would be plenty of time before the main course."
Dr. Lenet, his wife and family were regular patrons at Tio Pepe's restaurant on Franklin Street in downtown Baltimore.
"His second kitchen was Tio Pepe's. He was truly like a king when he walked into that place. The cook had a Dr. Lenet sauce - a brown sauce full of garlic, crab meat, shrimp and mushrooms," said a granddaughter, Jodi Lenet, who lives in Bethesda. "But what was more special to him was being able to share the food with his family, make a toast and show his pride for each and every one of us around that table."
He donated his professional services to patients at the Levindale Hebrew Geriatric Center and Hospital during the 1950s and 1960s. He was a past president of the Maryland Podiatric Medical Association and a past member of the Maryland State Board of Podiatric Medical Examiners. He was a regular contributor to the Associated Jewish Charities.
Dr. Lenet was also a founding member of the Chatham Club, a social organization set up in 1946.
"The men decided to go swimming. They went to a pool in Catonsville. At the entrance, they saw a sign that said, 'For approved Gentiles only.' The group had just gotten out of service in World War II. They had fought hard. They said, 'To hell with it. We're going to have our own club,'" Dr. Lenet told a Sun reporter in 1996 as he explained the club's origins.
Family members said he loved the city of Baltimore and volunteered at the Baltimore Visitors Center in the Inner Harbor, where he donated time from 1993 to last year.
"He passed on his passion and excitement for the city," his son, Marc Lenet, said. "He wanted to share the fun and good times of Baltimore with others. He was very well-read on Baltimore as well."
He also tutored at Pikesville Middle School and participated in a foster grandparent program. He enjoyed reading and discussing politics and history.
In addition to his two sons, survivors include his wife of 63 years, the former Elaine Herman; three other grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.
Services were held Sunday in Pikesville.