Douglas Dechairo (Dr. D) passed away on Sunday, May 26, 2019, at home surrounded by loved ones, after a courageous battle with an aggressive form of lung cancer. He was born February 23, 1941, in Manhattan, Kansas to town physician Dr. Thomas Dechairo and mother, Margaret. One of four children, he is survived by his brothers, T.C. and Roger and sister, Joyce. In his early teens, he became a life-long Jayhawk. He graduated from KU with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry in 1962 and received his medical degree from KU Medical Center in 1966. He completed his internship at the Great Lakes Naval Hospital, Chicago, and his residency at the San Diego Naval Hospital. During his eight years as a lieutenant commander in the Navy, he served three years at the naval hospital in Naples, Italy. When he returned to the U.S., he served one year in a pediatric infectious disease fellowship at Yale University. After serving our country, he worked in multiple clinical and teaching capacities in the San Diego area. The majority of his career was focused on his work and leadership at Children’s Medical Group in Escondido and Valley Center, CA. However, in 2011, he returned to Lawrence to retire, but that Jayhawk allure pulled him out of his three-month retirement. He started as a part-time physician with Watkins Student Health Services, until named the full time Director/Chief of Medical Staff in 2013. His career was launched and ended at his beloved University of Kansas.
Beyond his professional life, Doug contributed much to his community. Among his many contributions, he was a team doc for his local high school patients, an active member of VC Kiwanis; a School Board member in the Valley Center Pauma Unified School District; a California School Board Member; and, most recently an active board member and leader in the Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department.
Doug gave generously in his professional life as well as in his personal life. Widely thought of as the "never-aging, energizer bunny" to friends and family, some of his most prominent characteristics included his bright smile, chuckle, and energy, as well as his optimistic and upbeat attitude. When he wasn’t digging in the dirt or hammering nails, he loved cruising and RVing.
Doug is survived by a family who adored him, including his wife Lucy Dechairo, his children: Kristi Ahern, Bryan Dechairo, Daphne Willaby, Alysse Caraballo, Alison Aviles, and Michael Aviles. Doug adored his special Cavalier King Charles companion, "LJ." He treasured the many friends he enjoyed throughout his life and will be forever missed by family and friends.
A celebration of life will be held on Saturday, July 20, 2019, at his home. In lieu of flowers, if you would like to honor him, visit kuendowment.org/givenow. This fund was established by the KU Watkins Health Services staff in appreciation of his years of service and giving to the health center. You can make a gift to benefit the Watkins Health Services Development Fund and note that the gift is in honor of Dr. Doug Dechairo. He identified how he wanted donated funds to be targeted. As was Doug’s focus, he identified that funds donated to the endowment/Watkins fund are to be used for special projects or programs that will benefit students. Doug always gained great satisfaction in seeing happy and healthy children and young adults.