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Alfred Kahn Jr.

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Published: February 21, 2013

Alfred Kahn, Jr. M.D., 97, died on February 17, 2013. Alfred was predeceased by his wife of 65 years, Redith White Kahn, his daughter, Susan Oliver of Dallas, Texas, and his sister, Marion Godchaux of New Orleans. He was the son of the late, Bess and Alfred Kahn of Little Rock. He is survived by his son, Alfred Kahn, III, M.D. (Susan) of Cincinnati, Ohio; daughter, Marion Kahn of Steamboat Springs, Colo.; and his sister, Jane Moses of Little Rock. He has eight grandchildren, Marion Henry (Jim), Tom Oliver (Ashley), Alfred "Chip" Kahn IV, Kate Kahn, Chris Kahn (Jenni), Alfred Grant Ingersoll (SueAnn), Marion King (Trenton), and Anne Moore (Matthew) as well as six great-grandchildren with three more on the way.

He was very proud of his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, recognizing and honoring each for their unique gifts. Alfred was beloved by family and friends for his moral character, his healthy living example, his self-discipline, his generosity, his wit and his intelligence. A tough taskmaster, he worked to help everyone close to him reach his or her potential. He was an encourager and worked hard, as he often said, "not to stand in judgment of others."

Born in 1916 in Little Rock, Arkansas, Alfred attended Little Rock High School (now Central) and what is now the University of Arkansas at Little Rock until he was old enough to attend Washington & Lee College from which he graduated in three years. He attended Harvard Medical School and had a distinguished career in internal medicine.

He was editor of the Arkansas Medical Journal for almost 30 years. When he retired from this voluntary position, it took six people to replace him. He was also an adjunct professor at the University of Arkansas Medical School. He served on the founding board of the University of Arkansas Medical Sciences Foundation, now a major fundraising force for the university.

In 1980 he was honored with the Distinguished Alumnus Award from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. The university says of the award that it is "reserved for individuals who have achieved extraordinary distinction in their chosen field and made special contributions to the community."

Alfred was a believer in service in all aspects of his life. He served three years in World War II as a physician, primarily in North Africa. He was once written up in Time Magazine as a captain who had to drive a tank and amputate a soldier's leg at the same time.

His wife, Redith, was the light of his life. They traveled the world and took up cross-country skiing in their 60s, leading to a new life in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, where they also enjoyed many happy years together with the rich outdoor lifestyle and a new circle of close friends, in addition to the friends they loved in Little Rock.

He was deeply involved in Rotary and was a club president in Little Rock. He was a Paul Harris Fellow, a Jack Black Fellow, and an honorary member of the Steamboat Springs Rotary Club. As a devotee of exercise as part of a healthy lifestyle, he believed strongly that there should be "more playing fields and fewer bleachers." He benefitted by his childhood boxing and gymnastics at the (then) Boys Club of Little Rock and wanted other children to have the same opportunities for sporting activities and growth of character. He was a long time member of the Little Rock Boys Club Board and served as its president.

In addition to walking four miles a day, he was also an avid tennis player. He did hospital rounds at 4 a.m. so that he could be on the tennis court by 4 p.m. He enjoyed outsmarting opponents on the tennis court and punishing them with his infamous drop shot from the backcourt. For 20 years he called every morning to arrange his afternoon tennis game. He was so regular in his calls that friends knew when the phone rang at 8 a.m., it was Alfred calling for the afternoon game. He continued playing tennis daily until he was 92. He also loved quail and duck hunting. He was always gracious and a true Southern gentleman. He was a member of the First Presbyterian Church in Little Rock and attended the United Methodist Church of Steamboat Springs.

There will be a private family service in Steamboat Springs and one later in Little Rock where his ashes will be interred with those of his wife, Redith. In lieu of flowers and to honor his legacy, the family suggests that memorials may be made to the William E. Thrasher Boys and Girls Club, which stands on land donated to the club by his father, or the Rotary Foundation.

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