Family and colleagues remember Juneau pediatrician who died scuba diving

In mid-January, Juneau pediatrician Dr. Kimberly Kilgore died while scuba diving in Florida. She was 57 years old. Family and colleagues say she will be remembered for her whole-hearted approach to life and work.

“Everybody that that knew her loved her,” said her sister, Nicole Kilgore, from her home in Louisiana. “She always was willing to help everyone. She would put everyone else before herself. [She] loved, loved, loved children.”

Nicole says the whole family is extremely close. Kimberly was the oldest of three siblings.

“Life was an adventure to her,” said Nicole. “It was something meant to be lived all the time. She used every second of every day to play and she played hard. And she didn’t leave anything behind. You know, it’s sad, but I will say this, she definitely got every ounce of life out of life. So I have that to go off of.”

Kimberly Kilgore moved to Juneau with her husband so she could practice pediatrics full time here in 2018. She’d been working part-time in the community for over a decade.

At Rainforest Pediatrics, where she practiced, her partner Dr. Joy Neyhart says the office misses their friend and colleague. She said Dr. Kilgore’s style was “very thorough.”

“She would spend lots and lots of time with families at each visit,” Neyhart said. “And the most common comment I would get is, ‘Oh, thank you for bringing Dr. Kilgore here. She is awesome. And we learned so much’!”

Neyhart remembers her as a source of parenting wisdom and global clinical experience. She says patient families have called with support and memories of Kilgore’s care.

“I saw Dr. Kilgore and how she connected and how she took an interest in kids. And so I knew it, but to hear it come from a parent who got to experience it in and when such a positive way with their own child it was, you know, good to just good to hear that,” Neyhart said.

The clinic closed last week after Dr. Kilgore’s death and, coincidentally, an outbreak of COVID-19 among staff. Another pediatrician will be seeing patients at the clinic for the next week until  Neyhart and the staff can return. She said the community in Juneau and the medical community have been incredibly supportive.

Kilgore is survived by her husband, three grown children and three grandchildren.

Claire Stremple

Alaska News Reporter, KTOO

I believe every Alaskan has a right to timely information about their health and health systems, and their natural environment and its management. My goal is to report thoughtful stories that inform, inspire and quench the curiosity of listeners across the state.

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