Lawrence F. Kienle, 92, a radiologist who retired in 1978 from the former West Jersey Health System, died Friday, Dec. 4, at the Masonic Healthcare Center in Elizabethtown, Lancaster County, where he had lived in recent years.

Though he spent his career in South Jersey, Dr. Kienle made his largest mark after he had retired.

A. Craig Hillemeier, dean of Pennsylvania State University's College of Medicine, announced his passing by calling him "a man of towering generosity" who was "passionate about patient-centered care."

In 1985, Dr. Kienle and his wife, Jane, also a doctor, established an endowment fund at the Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center in Hershey.

The fund focused on the Center for Humanistic Medicine there, which opened in 1979.

Hillemeier, CEO of the Penn State Hershey Medical Center, explained humanistic this way:

"The Kienles recognized that while advancements in medicine extend lives, they can also diminish the intimate relationship between a patient and physician.

"The contributions of Drs. Larry and Jane Kienle have been paramount to our College of Medicine's mission to teach and deliver patient-centered care."

In a December 2006 piece in Penn State Medicine magazine, Dr. Kienle explained that after his retirement, he and his wife "kept hearing stories about medical care becoming impersonal, about the absence of compassion, and I guess we figured that was a good starting place."

The couple in 1988 set up the Doctors Kienle Chair for Humane Medicine at the Hershey center.

After Jane Kienle died in 1991, the medical center in 1992 renamed itself the Doctors Kienle Center for Humanistic Medicine.

Among its efforts, the Penn State magazine said, the center "conducts lectures featuring national leaders," and its "Humanities in Medicine awards are presented to those demonstrating community service and compassion."

Daniel R. Wolpaw, director of the Doctors Kienle Center, said the couple "wanted to do what they could to promote caring and compassion in the doctor-patient relationship."

The Kienles never studied at or worked at Penn State, Wolpaw said, but the center's directors "worked very closely with him about planning and budgeting. He was very closely involved."

Born in Schenectady, N.Y., Dr. Kienle earned a bachelor's degree at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Conn., in 1944 and graduated from Albany (N.Y.) Medical College.

After serving his internship and radiology residency at what is now Hahnemann University Hospital, he was an Air Force officer from 1954 to 1956.

From 1957 until he retired in 1978, he was a radiologist at the West Jersey Health System, which became part of Virtua Health in 1998.

His private practice was at South Jersey Radiology Associates at the South Jersey Medical Center in Cherry Hill.

He is survived by a brother.

A graveside service in Hanover was held Wednesday, Dec. 16. A New Jersey memorial service is being planned.

Donations may be sent to the Drs. Kienle Endowment for Humane Medicine, Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, 500 University Dr., Hershey, Pa. 17033.

Condolences may be offered to the family at www.hooverfuneralhome.com.

610-313-8134 @WNaedele