Dr. Earl Orth had the right balance of personal and medical skills to benefit his Twin Cities patients.

The popular physician, who worked for the Fairview Crosstown Clinic in Edina, died on Dec. 1 at his Edina home of cancer. The internist and gastroenterologist was 68.

In 1964, he graduated from the University of Minnesota Medical School. After serving his residency at Minneapolis' Veterans Hospital, he served as a doctor in the Army, rising to the rank of major at Fort Campbell, Ky.

In 1970, Orth and Dr. Loren Hall of Prior Lake opened a private practice in Minneapolis, both leaving it about 15 years ago to join Fairview's Crosstown Clinic.

"Of all the people I have run into in medicine, he was probably one of the most analytical and intelligent of doctors," said Hall. "On the other hand, the people he took care of, he absolutely loved."

And Orth remained cool under fire.

In medical crises, "he was always able to think straight," said Hall, who would consult with Orth when he couldn't figure out a problem.

"He was extremely helpful to me," Hall said.

Hall said that in working together for 37 years, they never once got angry with each other.

"Most remarkable, unreal," the doctor said.

Orth's friend and patient, John Lohmann of Edina, said that Orth was "so kind and courteous."

"He was always right. He was very insightful in the way he diagnosed [my ills]," said Lohmann. "He was a wonderful friend."

Jodi Wieczorek, a nurse-manager at Edina's Fairview Southdale Hospital had worked with Orth since 1990.

"He was a great advocate for patients, and they got great care because he was such a great collaborator with the whole medical team," said Wieczorek.

"He was a great patient," said Wieczorek. "He was still Dr. Orth."

Orth, a St. Paul native, was a 1957 graduate of St. Thomas Academy, when it was in St. Paul, and he finished his pre-med studies at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul.

When not working or spending time with his grandchildren, he enjoyed hunting, fishing and gardening.

He is survived by his wife of 43 years, Virginia, of Edina; a son, Stephen of Edina; daughters Michelle Thompson of Edina and Colleen McLean of Minneapolis; sister, Karen Kendrick, of New Brighton; brother, Gerald, of Hugo, and nine grandchildren.

Services have been held.