A physician, scientist, and educator
Dr. Bluemle was known as the developer of one of the first artificial kidneys in Philadelphia. Later, he became president of Thomas Jefferson University. But “Bill,” as he was called, had a humble start in Williamsport, Pa. The son of Lewis William Bluemle Sr. and Ora May Waltz Bluemle, he grew up during the Great Depression. He was a handyman for his father’s real estate business and spent summers working at Bethlehem Steel.
Dr. Bluemle served as president of the SUNY Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, N.Y., and then Oregon Health and Science University in Portland. In 1977, he returned to Philadelphia as the second president of Jefferson. Under his tenure, top professionals flocked to Jefferson and the hospital achieved its status as a Level One Trauma Center. He put key Philadelphia leaders on the board of trustees and tripled Jefferson’s endowment.
In retirement, Dr. Bluemle joined the board of trustees at the Connelly Foundation, where he was senior vice president for the last 27 years. The foundation awards grants to nonprofits.
“Being a part of the foundation’s altruistic mission brought him great fulfillment,” his family said.
He received many honors, including a 1990 doctorate of humane letters from Hopkins, which described him as “one of the leading lights of professional health education in the United States, a craftsman of science and enduring relationships.”