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Jeffrey L. Kahler, former St. Joseph Hospital medical staff president

Jan. 22, 1939 -- Sept. 21, 2017

Dr. Jeffrey L. Kahler, a former orthopedic surgeon and medical staff president at St. Joseph Hospital, died Sept. 21 in the SECU Jim & Betsy Bryan Hospice Home of UNC Health Care in Pittsboro, N.C., after a brief illness and 19-year struggle with Parkinson's disease. He was 78.

He was born in Harrisburg, Pa., the son of the late Harold and Ruth Jeanne Kahler. He graduated from Towanda High School and Gettysburg College, where he was a member of the baseball team, followed by a year of research at Dartmouth College, and then graduation from the University at Buffalo's Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences in 1966.

After a one-year internship at Buffalo hospitals, Dr. Kahler was drafted into the Army and spent a year in Vietnam as a battalion surgeon with the 5th/7th Air Cavalry Division, which was involved in many battles, including those in Hue and Khe Sanh. He then served one year at the Fitzsimons Army Hospital in Aurora, Colo.

Upon returning to Buffalo, he completed a four-year residency in orthopedic surgery at UB's affiliated hospitals, and in 1973 joined the Suburban Orthopedic Group in Cheektowaga. He primarily practiced at St. Joseph Hospital in Cheektowaga. During his tenure, he became president of the medical staff and chief of orthopedic surgery there.

Dr. Kahler lived in Williamsville while working in the area, and moved to Chapel Hill, N.C., in 2001, where he became active in the United Church of Chapel Hill. He spent the last six months of his life in the Spring Arbor Cottage in Durham, NC.

Dr. Kahler was known for his kind and quiet personality, and a quick wit. He enjoyed spending time with family and friends, as well as gardening, woodcarving, church choir, cultural events and travel. He was a member of North Presbyterian Church in Amherst. He also was a fierce competitor who won many golf tournaments, and was a member of Transit Valley Country Club.

He was predeceased by his sister Lucinda Sayler. Survivors include his wife of 52 years, Lucinda; a daughter, Ellen; a son, Dr. Chad; six grandchildren; and a brother, David.

A memorial service will be held Oct. 7 in the United Church of Chapel Hill, with burial to follow at its Memorial Garden.

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