Dr. Morton D. Kramer, a retired neurologist who was a hunter and collected waterfowl art, died of renal failure Dec. 11 at Gilchrist Hospice Towson. The Pikesville resident was 91.
Born in Baltimore and raised on Keyworth Avenue, he was the son of Harry Kramer, a plasterer, and his wife, Vivian Levitas, who were immigrants from Poland. He attended the Robert E. Lee School 49 and was a 1943 Baltimore City College graduate. He enlisted in the Coast Guard during World War II.
“My uncle grew up in a household where no one spoke English when they arrived in America in 1925,” said his niece, Ann Kramer Brodsky of Fair Lawn, N.J. “Morton was the son born in Baltimore who was the epitome of a self-made man. He studied in the basement under a bare light bulb because it was the most quiet place in the house.”
“He retained such gratitude for his family and the ways his four brothers had sacrificed so he could succeed,” his niece said.
He was a 1950 graduate of the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy and drove a cab to pay for his tuition.
“Once after class he made a trip to a local hospital and had an epiphany,” said a 2009 University of Maryland profile of him . “He had never set foot inside a hospital other than to have his tonsils removed as a kid and was amazed to see doctors working with patients.”
“’I didn’t want to fill prescriptions; I wanted to write prescriptions,’” Dr. Kramer said in the article.
After an internship at the University of Maryland Medical Center and his residency in internal medicine at Sinai Hospital, he returned to Maryland, where he became its first neurology resident and worked with Dr. Charles Van Buskirk and Dr. Jerome K. Merlis, an epilepsy expert.
Dr. Kramer went on to serve on the staff of St. Agnes Hospital from 1971 to 1995, when he retired as chief of neurology. He also had an electroencephalography lab at St. Joseph Hospital in Towson.
“My father loved the diagnostic challenges of neurology,” said his daughter, Dr. Rachel Kramer of New York City.
The University of Maryland profile described Dr. Kramer as a collector who had many interests. He sought out cast iron toy banks, slot machines and old cigarette containers.
“He even has a nearly full glass medicine bottle of whisky prescribed by a physician during Prohibition which advises the patient to swallow two tablespoons every hour,” the 2009 article said.
Dr. Kramer became an enthusiastic hunter. “At times he was so excited he threw a hunting jacket and pants over a suit and tie,” the 2009 article said.
“’The worse the weather, the better the hunting,’” he said of his hobby.
He brought home geese and deer that his wife prepared for family meals.
“When he shot a deer my brother and I had to eat venison burgers,” said his daughter. “The geese were another issue. We had to chew very lightly and not bite down on a piece of shot.”
His daughter recalled that her father had befriended two Crisfield barbers, Lem and Steve Ward, who had a side business carving and painting wooden decoys.
“My father got to know them and he became Lem Ward’s physician,” said his daughter. “He also collected Ward Brothers decoys because he liked them, not because he thought they would become collectible.”
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Dr. Kramer and his family made numerous trips to the Eastern Shore and visited the Ward brothers.
He exhibited his waterfowl art collection at the Easton Waterfowl Festival and the Havre de Grace Decoy Show.
“My father read history, much of it about World War II because he had been in the Coast Guard during this time,” said his daughter. “Until his end he had his Kindle with him.” He also read murder mysteries.
Dr. Kramer was the 2002-2003 president of the University of Maryland Medical School Alumni Association. He attended Baltimore Symphony Orchestra concerts and saw “Les Miserables” on numerous occasions.
He was a member of Baltimore Hebrew Congregation.
In addition to his daughter, survivors include a son, Dr. Andrew Kramer of Baltimore. His wife of 33 years, Carol Sue Waghelstein, a Baltimore city schools speech pathologist, died in 2001.
Services were held Thursday at Sol Levinson and Brothers.