Dr. Paul Anthony Kohlhepp, a retired ophthalmologist, an avid sailor and well-traveled golfer, died of organ failure Feb. 10 at Sinai Hospital. The North Baltimore resident was 86.
Born in Baltimore and raised on Gwynns Falls Parkway, he was the son of Harry Joseph Kohlhepp Sr., who sold tobacco, and Mary Angela Tormey Kohlhepp, a teacher. He attended Saint Cecilia School and was a 1954 graduate of what was then Loyola High School at Blakefield, where he was a member of the golf team.
He earned a degree at what is now Loyola University Maryland and was a 1962 graduate of the University of Maryland School of Medicine.
He became an ophthalmologist and belonged to numerous medical and ophthalmic societies.
Dr. Kohlhepp did his residency at Mercy Medical Center in downtown Baltimore and served in the Air Force.
A first lieutenant in the Medical Corps, he was stationed at Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, Mississippi, and at a Royal Air Force base at Bentwaters in Woodbridge, England.
According to a family biography, while serving at Bentwaters, on the eastern coast of England, he discovered one of his passions: sailing.
After leaving the military, he and his family settled in Annapolis because he thought it had similarities to the English coast and ample sailing opportunities.
Dr. Kohlhepp established his practice in ophthalmology and in 1969 founded the Baltimore Washington Eye Center in Glen Burnie.
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He expanded his medical practice with an ambulatory ophthalmic surgery center. He also performed phacoemulsification, a form of cataract surgery.
Family members said he added another innovation. He bought a van and hired a driver to take patients home after their medical procedures.
Dr. Kohlhepp was a serious golfer.
“He was a little better than average,” said his wife, Margaret Stevenson Kohlhepp. “He loved the English people and playing the courses there and in Scotland.”
He joined the Naval Academy Golf Association in Annapolis, the Baltimore Country Club and the Royal Poinciana Golf Club in Naples, Florida.
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Dr. Kohlhepp also owned several sailboats. He kept them at the Annapolis Yacht Club and raced his “Bluebird” in the Chesapeake Bay as well as in the race from Newport, Rhode Island, to Bermuda. He also chartered sailing craft out of Tortola in the British Virgin Islands.
“My stepfather brought immense precision to every task he took on, whether it was in the operating room or on the golf course,” said Michael “Mike” Holmes. “He was kind, caring and innovative. He was always thinking of his patients.”
After he retired from his medical practice, he lived in Naples, Florida, and enjoyed traveling to North Berwick, Scotland, for golf. He played golf with his wife and stopped by local pubs. They also spent time in Southwest Harbor, Maine, and took cruises to Australia, South America and the U.S. Pacific Coast.
“My uncle liked to have fun,” said his niece, Mary Pat McManus. “He was soft-spoken but had a dry sense of humor. He loved a good party and his wines.”
Dr. Kohlhepp studied wines and collected them. He often described their origins and properties to family and friends. He also visited California vineyards.
Survivors include his wife of 41 years, the former Margaret Stevenson, a former State Department and Peace Corps worker who was a hospital volunteer; a son, Paul Kohlhepp of Charlotte, North Carolina; two daughters, Denise Knobloch of Ruxton, and Alison Adkins of Washington, D.C.; three stepsons, James “Jamie” Holmes of Santa Cruz, California, Robert ”Rob” Holmes of San Juan, Puerto Rico, and Michael “Mike” Holmes of Davidsonville; and 13 grandchildren.
Services were held last Wednesday at the Shrine of the Sacred Heart in Mount Washington.