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Story Archives: Donald Edward Killelea Sr.
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|Donald Edward Killelea Sr.|
Funeral services for Dr. Donald Edward Killelea, 82, of Natchez, who died Friday, March 13, 2009, at Natchez Regional Medical Center were held at 2 p.m. Tuesday, March 17th, 2009, at St. Mary Basilica with Revs. David O'Connor and Mike O'Brien officiating.
Burial followed at the Natchez City Cemetery under the direction of Laird Funeral Home.
He was a pediatrician who began practicing medicine in Natchez in 1953. Dr. Killelea was born August 25, 1926, in New Orleans, the son of Edward Joseph and Genevieve Killelea. He grew up in Wichita Falls, TX. After graduating from high school there, he enrolled in the University of Texas. He left college in 1944 to serve in the U.S. Army and was stationed on a hospital ship as a medical administrative officer. He returned to the University of Texas in 1946 and graduated with a bachelor's degree. He enrolled in Tulane University in 1948 and received his medical degree in 1952. He came to Natchez in 1953 as a general practitioner to join former schoolmate Dr. Robert Barnes.
Dr. Killelea met and married Katherine Ferguson in 1955.
In 1959, Dr. Killelea returned to Tulane to be trained as a pediatrician. After completing his two-year medical residency there, he resumed his practice in Natchez. In 1970, he established the Children's Clinic, where he practiced medicine with Dr. Louis Lehmann and Dr. John Coffey. Dr. Killelea in 1967 developed the first hospital neonatal intensive care unit in Mississippi. He and Dr. Coffey collaborated as the first physicians in the state to place babies on ventilators to help them breathe. In 1963, Dr. Killelea organized Mississippi's first distribution of oral polio vaccines. He was appointed in 1966 to the board of trustees of Jefferson Davis Memorial Hospital (now Natchez Regional Medical Center). He was the first medical doctor to serve on the hospital board. While practicing medicine in Natchez, he also taught at Tulane University for more than 30 years as an instructor and clinical professor of pediatrics. He helped establish the Pleasant Acre Day School and served as its long-time president. He developed a speech-therapy program in 1964 that later became incorporated into the Natchez public school system. He also helped develop in 1967 a program for children with learning disabilities that was the first of its kind in the state. Dr. Killelea retired in 1997 after practicing medicine for 45 years.
Dr. Killelea was on the Britton & Koontz First National Bank Board of Directors from 1976 to 2000. He also served as chairman of the St. Mary Basilica/Cathedral School Development Committee. He helped organize the Tulane Pediatric Alumni Association and was its first president. A lover of music, Killelea helped establish the Natchez Opera Festival (now Natchez Music Festival) in 1991. He served as its board chairman for several years. He was also on the Santa Claus Committee and Children's Christmas Tree Executive Committee. He was Santa Claus in 1970. Dr. Killelea was King Rex of the Krewe of Phoenix in 1991 and the Krewe of Killarney's St. Patrick in 1996. He loved to spend time at his family's lakehouse - "Seven Reasons" - on Lake St. John and to hunt and fish at the mouth of the Mississippi River.
Dr. Killelea was preceded in death by his parents.
Survivors include his wife, Katherine; five daughters: Kathy and husband, Robert Sizemore, of Natchez; Ginny Killelea of Natchez; Margee and husband, Collins Wohner, of Jackson; Donna Ann and husband, Lewis Bliss, of Sacremento, CA; Patty Killelea of Natchez; two sons: Donald and wife, Amy Killelea, of Natchez; Edward and wife, Kathryn Killelea, of Natchez; six grandchildren: Ginny Bliss, Katherine Bliss, Carlen Sizeniore, Medley Wohner, Catherine Wohner, Sophia Killelea; one brother: Robert and wife Becky Killelea of Jackson, MS.
Pallbearers were William Gandy, Ashton James, Prentiss Ferguson; Frederick Ferguson, John Carriere and John Mott Coffey.
Honorary pallbearers were Richard Durkin, Andrew Peabody, Dr. William Godfrey, Thomas Armstrong and Joseph Carriere.
Memorials may be made to Pleasant Acres Day School or Natchez Music Festival.
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