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Eugene Kilgore, MD February 3, 1920 - April 6, 2003

Eugene Kilgore, MD

Dr. Eugene Sterling Kilgore Jr., a distinguished master of the delicate art of hand surgery, died Sunday from melanoma at his retirement home in San Rafael. He was 83.

A native of San Francisco and longtime resident of Tiburon, Dr. Kilgore served as chief of hand surgery at several hospitals and at UC San Francisco.

Repairing the human hand and teaching others to do it were his passions in life, so much so that he volunteered thousands of hours beyond the call of duty.

"The more time I am exposed to the hand, the more fascinated I am with it," he told the San Francisco Examiner in 1979. He compared the hand to the "intricacy of a fine Swiss watch and the complexity of eyesight."

He co-wrote an important textbook, "The Hand: Surgical and Nonsurgical Management," and he was author or co-author of more than 100 scientific articles.

He graduated from Galileo High School in 1937 and UC Berkeley in 1941. He enlisted in the Army during World War II, received the Bronze Star and emerged in 1945 as a lieutenant colonel in intelligence.

When he graduated from UCSF Medical School in 1949, he received the coveted Gold-Headed Cane Award as the outstanding student of the class. He interned with the Harvard Medical Service at Boston City Hospital and then worked as a resident in surgery at Roosevelt Hospital in New York City.

His engagement and 1951 marriage to Mimi Wines in New York City was big news in San Francisco society pages.

The couple returned to San Francisco in 1957 and moved after two years to Tiburon, where they spent many years together before his wife, a talented artist, passed away in 1997.

The son of a doctor who was a leading heart disease expert at UCSF, Dr. Kilgore was chief of hand surgery at UCSF, St. Francis Memorial Hospital in San Francisco and at the Livermore, Martinez and Ft. Miley veterans hospitals.

He also served as a professor of clinical surgery at UCSF, and he was co- founder of the San Francisco Hand Surgery Fellowship, which trained more than 30 fellows over 20 years. In addition, he taught at St. Mary's Orthopedic program and St. Francis, training approximately 50 residents there as well. In the 1960s, he traveled frequently to Mexico City to teach hand surgery.

He also worked in private practice, retiring in 1999.

He was a member of the Bohemian Club and the Rotary, and enjoyed many hobbies, including woodworking, art, music, gardening, tennis and fishing. His awards included the Kaiser Award for teaching, the Charlotte Baer Memorial Award and the 1998 UCSF Alumnus of the Year Award.

His entry in "Who's Who" includes a section called "Thoughts on Life":

"The road to success lies in meeting responsibility with an open, inquisitive mind and hard work, tempered with humility, kindness, time for family, for play, for the arts as well as a good laugh. The lasting measure of success is how much remains after you have gone that continues to be of value to others."

Dr. Kilgore is survived by his son, Eugene S. Kilgore III of Sonoma, daughter Bee Kilgore of Tiburon and a grandson, William Kilgore of Sonoma.

A memorial service (was held) at 11 a.m. April 26 at St. Hilary Church, 761 Hilary Dr., Tiburon.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations can be sent to the Eugene S. Kilgore Jr. Visiting Professorship in Surgery Fund, c/o UCSF Foundation, Box 0248, San Francisco CA 94143-0248, Attn. Alison Gray.