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Louis McDonough


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ATLANTA: Louis McDonough, 83, physician for King kids


Dr. Louis McDonough was summoned to the home of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in April 1968 on the night of the civil rights leader's assassination.

One of the King children needed Dr. McDonough, the family's pediatrician.

"It was Bernice, who was the baby then," said Linda Spivey of Atlanta, a nurse for the doctor for nearly three decades. "Coretta had called. She wanted to get the child attended to. He was the doctor for the King children until they became adults."

"He went over and stayed a good long time," said Alice Wight McDonough, his wife of 55 years. I remember he said how sad it was over there."

Dr. Louis Allen McDonough, 83, died Friday at Budd Terrace at Wesley Woods as a result of complications while hospitalized for leg clots. The funeral is 10 a.m. today at the Episcopal Cathedral of St. Philip. H.M. Patterson & Son, Spring Hill Chapel, is in charge of arrangements.

In his 40-year career, Dr. McDonough was affiliated with Egleston Children's Hospital, Scottish Rite, Piedmont and Northside hospitals. As a young man, Dr. McDonough had played with the idea of attending grad school at Georgia Tech. On enrollment day, he headed to the Emory University School of Medicine, his wife said. He told the dean he simply had to be a doctor.

"That started it all," his wife said.

The couple met when her father was admitted to the Emory emergency room after having a stroke. Dr. McDonough was the internist who handled her strong-willed father. While Dr. McDonough was good with adult patients, his forte was young people. He often said that he loved working with children because they had their whole lives ahead of them. Family and friends say he had a "tender hand," notably so with preemies, those tiny 2-pounders.

Newton Turk, a retired doctor who lives on St. Simons Island, said Dr. McDonough called on Turk when a child's medical issue dealt with the esophagus or lungs. Dr. McDonough eventually became the Turk family doctor.

"None of my children ever had any serious pediatric problems, but they loved him and thought he was the cat's pajamas," Dr. Turk said. "He was very relaxed and hated to hurt anybody when they needed a shot or something. He was definitely a leader in the field. He was good enough to win my business for all my family."

A "Buckhead Boy," Dr. McDonough graduated from North Fulton High School and Emory.

In the 1970s, he served on a commission that inspected milk. He served as the physician who traveled with a group that made sure manufacturers adhered to milk production standards.

Dr. McDonough became a confidant of Coretta Scott King. She used to tell him about her concern for Dr. King's safety.

"She worried about that quite a bit," his wife said.

Additional survivors include three sons, Louis Allen McDonough Jr. of Jacksonville and Joseph Daffin McDonough and Stewart Miles McDonough; two daughters, Rebecca Lee McDonough and Wight McDonough Mixon, both of Atlanta: and seven grandchildren.

© 2009 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Feb. 23, 2009
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