The Rev. Arnold Tiemeyer, 72, a Lutheran pastor who set up the first nursing home for AIDS patients in Philadelphia, died of prostate cancer Sunday at a nursing center at Shannondell in Audubon, the retirement community in Montgomery County where he had resided for the last two years.

Mr. Tiemeyer retired in February after two years as visitation pastor at Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church in Lansdale.

From 1985 to 1995, he was president of Lutheran Home at Germantown, a social services agency in Northwest Philadelphia.

In 1989, he aroused a public storm when he proposed that the Lutheran Home open Betak, the AIDS facility at McCallum Street and Mount Airy Avenue in West Mount Airy.

"Many of the neighbors in this community, which has a long history of enlightened civic-mindedness, came to believe that there was a moral imperative to promote creation of such a facility," an Inquirer editorial stated in chastising some City Council members for "a profile in cowardice" for failing to help fund Betak.

Two months later, the Montgomery County commissioners voted to financially support it because some county residents would be patients at Betak.

In 1994, an activist group representing those with AIDS and HIV pitched tents on the grounds at Betak and went on a hunger strike to call attention to a lack of state funding for the operation.

In the winter of 1996-97, Betak closed after four years.

From 1995 to 2000, Mr. Tiemeyer was vice president for senior health at Jefferson Health System.

In 1998, he announced a Jefferson agreement with Genesis ElderCare Network to run a skilled nursing center in Wayne for elderly people who no longer needed to be patients at Bryn Mawr, Lankenau and Paoli Memorial Hospitals but needed nursing care.

In 2006, Mr. Tiemeyer was interim director for Lutheran Advocacy Ministry in Pennsylvania, a group that lobbies state legislators, his wife, Betsy, said.

Last June, he resigned after nine years on the board of the Philadelphia Senior Center.

Mr. Tiemeyer began his career with the denomination now known as the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America in the 1960s as a parish pastor in Waterloo, Iowa, and Chicago.

For 17 years, from the late 1960s to the early 1980s, his wife said, he worked for the denomination's national office in Manhattan, rising to assistant executive director for the Division for Missions in North America.

Mr. Tiemeyer earned a bachelor's degree in philosophy at Wittenberg University in Springfield, Ohio, in 1959 and a master's of divinity degree from the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago in 1962, the year that he was ordained.

Wittenberg awarded him an honorary doctorate of divinity in 1985, the year that he moved to Philadelphia.

Besides his wife of 49 years, he is survived by sons Michael and Peter, daughter Ann, and four grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held at 7 p.m. Friday at Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church, 1000 W. Main St., Lansdale.

Contact staff writer Walter F. Naedele at 215-854-5607 or wnaedele@phillynews.com.