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.”