Ophthalmologists lost a valued friend and colleague on September 20, 1999, with the death, at age 58, of Louis A. Karp, MD, chief of the ophthalmology section at Pennsylvania Hospital and clinical professor of ophthalmology at Thomas Jefferson University and the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia. Countless patients and friends also were saddened by the untimely loss of this compassionate, devoted physician.
Louis Karp, a magna cum laude graduate of Franklin and Marshall College, Lancaster, Pa, went on to medical school at Thomas Jefferson University where he graduated at the top of his class in 1965. He completed his residency training in ophthalmology at the University of Pennsylvania under Harold G. Scheie, MD, and later completed a residency in anatomic pathology at the same institution. This was followed by a year of study in ophthalmic pathology at The Armed Forces Institute of Pathology in Washington, DC, where, along with others, he wrote a landmark article on primary intraorbital meningiomas.1 All of his academic training was a source of great pride to him, and he made good use of it during his years of practice and teaching. In the end, however, he chose service to patients above all else.
He soon established a large practice to which he dedicated virtually all of his time. His devoted patients, who universally recognized his integrity and good faith, always came first. He was sympathetic and compassionate, never satisfied until he had made sure there was not something more he could do for each of them. Patients did not complain about long waits because they knew that when it was their turn, the doctor's attention would be totally dedicated to their needs, to the exclusion of everything else. His family graciously learned to share his time with those who needed him.
Louis Karp was always ready to teach, something he enjoyed and did well. He was at his best when instructing one student at a time. He taught residents ophthalmic pathology in this way, explaining patiently the importance of this discipline to their clinical practice. He won a special award from the residents who appreciated his unselfish devotion to their needs. In larger groups, he was successful as well. He taught a course in slitlamp microscopy for several years at the University of Puerto Rico in San Juan. More recently, he made a trip to Vietnam and was looking forward to establishing a teaching program there. He was highly regarded by his colleagues at Pennsylvania Hospital, where he was active in the continuing medical education program.
Dr Karp always listened carefully to everyone and was thought by many to be too serious. He had, however, a warm and humorous side as well, seen often by those friends with whom he felt comfortable. He was devoted to his family, as they were to him. He is survived by his wife, Esther Freeman Karp; 3 children, Michael, Debra, and Susan Reisenbach; 5 grandchildren; and his brother, Dr Joel Karp.
Louis Karp left an indelible mark on the ophthalmic community, a clear indication of his devotion to service. The quality of his work and his dedication to patients stand as a challenge to us all.
Frayer WC. Louis A. Karp, MD (1940-1999). Arch Ophthalmol. 2000;118(3):449. doi:10.1001/archopht.118.3.449