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Robert McClelland (1929–2019), surgeon tried to save JFK

AP Photo/LM Otero

He was part of the surgical team at Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas that worked to save the president as well as on his assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, two days later

Robert McClelland was a surgeon who worked to save President John F. Kennedy after he was shot on November 22, 1963. McClelland was a young general surgeon at Dallas’ Parkland Memorial Hospital at the time, having served in the U.S. Air Force for two years before his residency there. When Kennedy was rushed to the hospital after being shot while traveling through downtown Dallas in his motorcade. McClelland, who was working with surgical residents when Kennedy was brought in, was called into surgery along with lead surgeon Malcolm Perry and Charles Baxter. The surgical team did all they could, but they were unable to save the president. Two days later, McClelland was part of the surgical team that tried to save the life of Kennedy’s assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, after he was shot by Jack Ruby. Later in McClelland’s career, he taught medicine at the University of Texas Southwestern, and he published the journal “Selected Readings in General Surgery” for about 30 years.

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Died: September 10, 2019 (Who else died on September 10?)

Details of death: Died at an assisted living facility in Dallas of kidney failure at the age of 89.


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McClelland’s theory: When the Warren Commission concluded that Oswald had worked alone to assassinate Kennedy, McClelland disagreed. He had first-hand knowledge of where the president’s injuries were and how severe they were, and he didn’t believe the bullet to the president’s head could have come from the book depository where Oswald hid. McClelland was a proponent of the grassy knoll theory that suggested a second gunman shot Kennedy from a nearby hill.

Notable quote: “I’d never seen anything like this before, and just as I stood there and took it in, the crowd spontaneously parted and made a little corridor down to the emergency operating rooms. There, sitting outside Trauma Room 1, on a folding chair, was Mrs. Kennedy, in her bloody clothing.” —McClelland in a 2013 interview at the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza

Full obituary: Dallas Morning News

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