LAYTON -- Dr. Frank Dieter-Kramer wants to express his gratitude to all of his patients for putting up with his German accent over the years.
The Tanner Clinic pediatrician, who is retiring after 33 years in practice, said a "blank stare" was usually a clear indication that he didn't get through to the children he treated.
No matter though. His patients adored him, said Courtney Killpack, marketing director at Tanner Clinic. Their parents loved him, and he treated them all with compassion, courtesy and respect.
"Not only is he a great physician to work for, but he is personable, compassionate, dedicated and very involved with each of his patients," said Tonya Martinez, who works in Kramer's office. "He does all of this with follow-up calls to patients, coming in on his days off and never turning down a patient who didn't have insurance or struggled financially."
Kramer, who changed his name from Frank Dieter-Kramer to Frank D. Kramer when he arrived in the United States, was born in Fulda, Hessen, Germany in 1943. He graduated from the University of Marburg/Lahn, served a medical internship in Freiburg and started his residency in Cologne.
He also served in the military with the medical corps for two years. When he attended medical school, Kramer said it was comparatively easy to be accepted as long as you had good grades.
"But then, rigorous testing reduced the number of students very quickly, by as much as 90 percent, from 250 the first year to 25 in the last year to graduation," he said. "The devotion of the teachers to give the students as much information as possible in the time available, in a friendly, relaxed atmosphere, stands in contrast to the more rigid hierarchal system of lecturing in Germany. (There's) more dialogue and discussion here."
Kramer wanted to complete his residency somewhere in the United States, so he applied to the University of Utah and was accepted. He never returned home.
Kramer said he planned to specialize in internal medicine, but after the birth of his first child, he and his wife, Astrid, made so many calls to the pediatrician, he decided if they were going to have more children -- the couple ended up having five more -- he better change his plans, so he focused on pediatrics.
During his career, Kramer has made numerous humanitarian trips to Guatemala and Haiti. He was also named Davis County's Doctor of the Year in 2005.
His years as a physician have been extremely rewarding, Kramer said. Some situations were sad, others happy and some downright funny.
"One time a mother brought in her daughter, maybe 10 or 11 years old, with an obviously very injured foot," he said. "The child was limping, a discolored blue and reddish ankle area. I was about ready to order an X-ray when I had the feeling that something in the story did not sound right."
Kramer took a wet cotton ball and rubbed against the discolored area.
"The color came right off," he said. "The child did get attention, but probably not the kind she was hoping for."
Kramer said one of the biggest challenges of being a pediatrician is the fact that little children cannot explain what has happened, or even where it hurts. He also said treatment depends solely on the parents' willingness and ability to follow directions and follow through.
His greatest joys have come from helping families through difficult and challenging illnesses, guiding young parents in their early stages of parenthood, coming up with the correct diagnoses in difficult cases and sponsoring and teaching students in various medical care professions.
After he officially retires Aug. 31, Kramer will kick back and enjoy some of his beloved hobbies. He also will focus on spending even more time with his seven grandchildren.
"I have a master gardener degree from the Utah State University Extension service, and my backyard gives me plenty of opportunity to relax and work hard," he said. "I also like biking and have traveled across the United States in four solo bike rides. Photography is another hobby, and anything with water, (including) sailing, swimming and rafting."
His staff said he will be deeply missed. Martinez said he was like a second father to her and that makes Kramer happy. He said he wants to be fondly remembered by his staff and patients, but, he added, it's time to go.
"I looked in the mirror, and the mirror told me it's time to retire," he said. "I hope my patients felt that I treated them fairly and with compassion."