Dr. William H. Rodgers, 75, of Blue Bell, a Norristown family practitioner who directed a training program for young doctors, died of cancer Dec. 5 at Montgomery Hospital in Norristown.

Dr. Rodgers, whose father also was a physician, grew up in West Philadelphia and graduated from Salesian High School in New Rochelle, N.Y., where he was class valedictorian.

He earned a bachelor's degree from Notre Dame University. A devoted alumnus, he served on Notre Dame's College of Science Advisory Council for 36 years, said his wife, Charlotte Riddle Rodgers. The couple met in South Bend, Ind., and married in 1955, the year he graduated.

After earning a medical degree from Temple University, Dr. Rodgers completed a residency at Albert Einstein Medical Center in Philadelphia, and then served in the Navy for two years at Great Lakes Naval Station in Illinois.

In 1962, he established a family practice in Norristown and was on the staff of Montgomery Hospital and Sacred Heart Hospital in Norristown. He helped found the residency program at Montgomery Hospital in 1972, to train doctors in family medicine.

Dr. Rodgers was interviewed by The Inquirer in 1992 about the decreased popularity of medical specialists because of rising medical costs and the increased interest in family medicine.

He was "elated," he said, that primary-care doctors were finally getting the respect they deserved. "I've got young residents around me. They're enthusiastic. I'm enthusiastic. I just see wonderful things," he said.

After retiring as director of the residency program in the late 1990s, Dr. Rodgers remained involved with training doctors at Montgomery Hospital, and was an associate professor of family and community medicine at Temple University School of Medicine.

Dr. Rodgers continued to maintain a medical practice and still made house calls to elderly patients, his wife said.

"We never had an unlisted phone number. People could reach him anytime," she said.

Patients were still calling two weeks ago when he was in hospice care, she said. If he was too sick to talk when they phoned, he called them back.

Dr. Rodgers received numerous awards, including the 2005 Family Physician of the Year Award from the Pennsylvania Academy of Family Physicians and the 2008 Black History Committee of Norristown Award.

He enjoyed following football and baseball, spending time with his grandchildren, and fast cars, his wife said. He owned a Porsche 911, and loved the NASCAR race-driver training class he took in Charlotte, N.C.

In addition to his wife, Dr. Rodgers is survived by a daughter, Cheryl Strother; sons John, Christopher, and Martin; and 10 grandchildren.

A Funeral Mass will be said at 11 a.m. today at Epiphany of Our Lord Church, 3050 Walton Rd., Plymouth Meeting. Friends may call from 9:30 a.m. Burial will be in Calvary Cemetery, West Conshohocken.

Contact staff writer Sally A. Downey at 215-854-2913 or sdowney@phillynews.com.