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Obituaries

Dr. Alfred Kronthal, a retired ophthalmologist, teacher and mentor, dies

Dr. Alfred Kronthal, a retired ophthalmologist and family patriarch, died of cardiac arrest May 16 at Union Memorial Hospital. The North Baltimore resident was 86.

Born in Baltimore and raised on Shelbourne Road, he was the son of Jacob “Jack” Kronthal, a pharmacist, and Reba Harris, a homemaker. He studied piano at the Peabody Institute and was a 1953 graduate of Baltimore City College. He earned a bachelor’s degree at what is now Loyola University Maryland.

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While studying medicine at University of Maryland, Dr. Kronthal met his future wife, Roz Goldner, on a blind date. They married 10 months later, and she became the office manager at his medical practice.

The couple were busy raising their four children and moving from state to state. He did postgraduate studies at Harvard Medical School in Boston and a residency at University of Illinois’s Eye & Ear Infirmary. He also served at the Offutt Air Force Base in Omaha, Nebraska, and left military service as a captain.

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“He kept his promise to Roz and brought the family back to Baltimore, where he set up his ophthalmology practice,” said his daughter Lisa Elkin. “My father shared his love for us openly. He was our guiding light.”

Early in his career, he practiced on Park Avenue then moved his office to the Village of Cross Keys.

“He deeply loved his patients,” said his wife, Roz. “He would know three generations of a family. My husband never had a single regret about what he chose as his profession.”

His son, Eric Kronthal, recalled that he and his sisters took turns being the Saturday receptionists at his medical practice. Sometimes, patients grew impatient if Dr. Kronthal was late for their appointments.

“All was forgiven as soon as they walked into his examining rooms,” his son said. “My father was a skilled surgeon. I once watched him operate on a cataract patient. Another physician told me, ‘Watch carefully; this guy is an artist.’”

His son also said, “My father moved smoothly through life as if never requiring urgency of any kind.”

After settling in a Woodvalley Drive home in Baltimore Country in the 1960s, the Kronthals opened their home and swimming pool to friends, who often stayed on for dinner.

“Our house was club central,” said his daughter Sherri Kronthal. “My father loved having us there with our friends and his friends. “Everyone was welcome and wanted. My parents were special that way.”

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“My father was a combination of opposites,” said his daughter Lauren Kronthal. “He was cerebral but could be exceptionally silly. He was a worrier but was also warm, thoughtful and engaging. He was always curious.”

Said his son, Eric: “No matter what time my father came home from making hospital rounds, we all had dinner together.”

His family said Dr. Kronthal loved teaching and mentoring ophthalmology residents and fellows at Sinai Hospital and Wilmer Eye Institute at the Johns Hopkins Hospital, where he won accolades as a teacher.

“He was a great surgeon and he spent a great deal of his time teaching his residents as he operated,” said Dr. Don Abrams, director of the Sinai Hospital’s Krieger Eye Institute.

“At that time patients were awake during eye surgeries and he was very kind to them. As a teacher, he spent time teaching residents, showing how to have a successful doctor-patient relationship and the practical side of treating patients.”

After Dr. Kronthal retired, he read more and tackled Dostoevsky’s “Crime and Punishment.” A methodical reader, he had notes posted throughout the work.

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“My father loved a good gin martini,” his daughter Lisa said. “It had to be served ice-cold in a chilled glass with slivers of ice and blue cheese olives. It also had to be filled to the very top.”

In retirement, he pursued jewelry-making and studied at Maryland Institute College of Art. One of his pleasures was creating pieces and gifting them to his family and friends.

“He had a fine aesthetic. He loved art and beautiful things, and he was a great surgeon — he had great hands. He put those skills to use in crafting jewelry,” said his daughter Lauren.

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“He was a great admirer of the work of [Baltimore jewelry artist] Betty Cooke,” said his wife.

He made necklaces, bracelets and pins in silver and gold as gifts for his family and close friends.

Dr. Kronthal had a strong interest in classic cars and attended car shows. He owned a 1947 MG two-seater convertible, which he often drove throughout Baltimore County. He later owned a Porsche and would take his grandsons to see new cars in auto showrooms.

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He was a past president of the Print, Drawing & Photograph Society at the Baltimore Museum of Art. He and his wife collected Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns, Frank Stella and Ellsworth Kelly prints.

Dr. Kronthal subscribed to the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and the Shriver Hall Concert Series. He and his wife regularly visited their grandchildren.

He is survived by his wife of more than 60 years, Roz Goldner, who taught briefly before joining her husband in his medical practice; three daughters, Sherri Kronthal of Baltimore, Lauren Kronthal of Baltimore and Lisa Elkin of New York City; a son, Eric Kronthal of Chevy Chase; and six grandchildren.

Services were held Wednesday at Sol Levinson & Bros.


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