June Klinghoffer, 87, a physician and educator who inspired thousands of students during the half-century she taught at the former Woman's Medical College of Pennsylvania, died Saturday of cardiovascular disease at home in Merion.

Born in the kitchen of the South Street home that housed her father's carpet store, Dr. Klinghoffer graduated from Philadelphia High School for Girls in 1938. With a firm conviction that she wanted to be a doctor, she was one of three women in the pre-med program at the University of Pennsylvania, from which she graduated in 1941. Dr. Klinghoffer earned a medical degree in 1945 from the Woman's Medical College of Pennsylvania, the institution where she worked until retiring in 2000.

A bronze statue of Dr. Klinghoffer, life-like down to the pack of cigarettes in her pocket, adorns the Queen Lane campus of the Medical College of  Pennsylvania, the name adopted in 1970 when men were admitted. (It is now named the Drexel University College of Medicine.)

Although Dr. Klinghoffer supported women in medicine, she was among the strongest supporters of male medical students at the college.

"She always made me feel that we belonged there," said Donald Lieberman, a 1973 graduate. "We weren't men, we were doctors in training."

"If I had to pick a single person in the last 50 years who represents all that is good about WMC/MCP, it would be June Klinghoffer," said Barbara Schindler, vice dean of education. "She has impacted the lives of more students than any other faculty member, and probably more than a dozen faculty members combined."

A specialist in rheumatology, Dr. Klinghoffer served her patients with the same devotion and care that she brought to her work with students.

During her long career, she was honored with several awards, including the coveted Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching, and was elected to the Court of Honor of Distinguished Daughters of Girls High  in 2006. The college established the June Klinghoffer Chair in Medicine in her honor.

Dr. Klinghoffer married Sidney Wenger, a psychiatrist, in 1947 and they raised a son in Merion.

"My mother was often stopped while driving her 1966 burgundy GTO," said her son, Robert, who is also a doctor. "She was asked if her son would consider selling the car. She said it belonged to her and was not for sale."

In addition to her son, Dr. Klinghoffer is survived by a grandson and several nieces and nephews. Her husband died in 2002. Donations may be made to the Archives Building Fund, Drexel University College of Medicine, Box 8235, Philadelphia 19101-9685.

The funeral is at 1 p.m. today at Joseph Levine & Son, 7112 N. Broad St. Burial will be in Roosevelt Memorial Park.

Contact staff writer Gayle Ronan Sims at 215-854-4185 or gsims@phillynews.com.