Archive for Sunday, January 13, 2013

Longtime pediatrician leaving Lawrence with legacy of service

January 13, 2013


Retired pediatrician Helen Gilles, 90, has had a tremendous influence on the health and well-being of Lawrence’s younger generations.

Having treated up to 25 patients a day for almost 40 years, the number of children she has seen easily totals in the thousands.

“I can’t go anyplace where someone doesn’t know me,” Gilles said.

After serving the community for that many years, Gilles was on the receiving end of a special treatment on Sunday.

Family and friends gathered at the Unitarian Fellowship of Lawrence, 1263 North 1100 Road, to bid farewell to Gilles, who will leave this week to live in a retirement home in St. Paul, Minn.

“I’ll be close to my grandkids and kids,” she said. “I’m not worried. I have a feeling it will be just right.”

She might have days with her family to look forward to, but she leaves behind a past of service to the Lawrence area.

Gilles became a pediatrician in 1948 after attending medical school during World War II and graduating in six years.

“There weren’t that many women at that time in medical school,” she said. “They were pushing us through because they needed doctors.”

Gilles eventually set up practice in Lawrence, and with her husband, helped found the Unitarian Fellowship, where her reception was held.

“She has one of those matter-of-fact outlooks on life that’s very refreshing,” former patient Lisa Boley said. “She would tell you what she thought.”

Gilles officially retired in 1982 but continued to spend time giving back to the community after her retirement.

Gilles said she was happy to have spent most of her life in Lawrence.

“It’s been a good place,” she said. “Why shouldn’t it be? I’ve been here long enough.”


Ken Lassman 5 years, 4 months ago

As I recall, back in the day, the doctor used to give the shot when the nurse was busy--and it wasn't in the arm. Thanks for being that healthy pain in the posterior that kept my flying right, Helen!

Bob Forer 5 years, 4 months ago

She was my childhood doctor. A great physician, and a wonderful woman. Thanks Doc!!

Kansas_Supporter 5 years, 4 months ago

Dr. Gillis was an outstanding doctor. She is an anchor in the community and will be missed.

Tim Orel 5 years, 4 months ago

My doc as well.

If anyone has her contact information, please let her know I know some St. Paul Unitarians that I'd love to connect her to.

Tim Orel

rhartner 5 years, 4 months ago

Helen, Congratulations and give my best to Kathy and Becky! You were a one of a kind Girl Scout Leader to me and those fortunate few back in Lawrence in the 60's, and I am a better person because of your leadership, support, and incredible mentoring. Fondly, Rosie Pinet Hartner Kirkland, Arizona

Tyson Travis 5 years, 4 months ago

Remember you and Paul from the Unitarian Fellowship, starting in Strong Auditorium at KU in the 50s, later moving to Pleasant Valley in the 60s, where my father, Ken Travis, helped with the refurbishment and later served as Chairman. Good luck in MN, remember, it's a lot colder up there. Ty Travis, Pine Bluff AR

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