Donald Vail Rhoads, 86, a physician who had maintained a family practice in Chestnut Hill for many years, died Jan. 27 of complications of Alzheimer’s disease at Foulkeways at Gwynedd.

Dr. Rhoads, who retired in 1993, also was an assistant clinical professor of medicine at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, where he taught senior medical students in the outpatient clinic. He also served on the staff of Northwestern Institute of Psychiatry and worked as a medical advisor for the American Friends Service Committee.

For 31 years he served on the board of the Wistar Institute of Anatomy and Biology that was founded by his great-uncle Isaac J. Wistar in 1892. He was a vice-president of the board of directors of Friends Hospital, the first hospital in this country to focus on the care of the mentally ill.

Dr. Rhoads’ son Sam said that the practice of medicine provided his father “with the opportunity to express his love and care for people.”

A lifelong resident of Chestnut Hill, Dr. Rhoads was a graduate of Westtown School, Stanford University and the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. He interned at Pennsylvania Hospital and completed a three-year fellowship in internal medicine at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. He received a master’s degree in internal medicine from the University of Minnesota. A conscientious objector during the Korean War, he served his alternative service at Rochester State Hospital.

Dr. Rhoads was an active member of Germantown Friends Meeting and served for nearly 20 years on the School Committee of Germantown Friends School. He was a member of the boards of Foulkeways and Stapeley in Germantown.

An avid backpacker, he spent most summer vacations hiking with his family, or solo, in the wilderness of the high Sierra Nevada range. At home he was a carpenter and enthusiastic gardener who landscaped the garden and waterfall, built stone walls and laid brick paths.

In addition to his son, he is survived by his wife, the former Nancy Shipley; daughters Mary Alexander, Anne Melikechi, Caroline Rhoads and Nancy Glick; a son, Wistar Rhoads; a brother, William G. Rhoads, and seven grandchildren. A brother, S. Edward Rhoads, died in 2009.

A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 15, at Germantown Friends Meeting, 44 W. Coulter St. in Germantown. Donations may be made to any of the organizations supported by Dr. Rhoads or to the Penn Memory Center, Attn: Barbara Overholser, 3615 Chestnut St., Room 236, Philadelphia, PA 19104. – WF