Donald Christner McIlrath

McIlrath, Donald Christner Donald died peacefully, on Saturday, December 7, 2019, at Charter House in Rochester, Minnesota. He was 90. Donald McIlrath (Mac) was born in Hutchinson, Kansas to Donald and Lera McIlrath on Groundhog Day, 1929. He was raised in Great Bend, Kansas and graduated from Great Bend High School, where he played football, basketball, baseball, ran track and sang in the choir. Mac graduated from the University of Kansas in 1950, entered Kansas Medical School in Kansas City and received the degree of M.D. in 1954. Mac was never able to answer why he sought a career in medicine, but he suspected it was because of "great admiration for our family physician, Dr. Don Kendall, who subsequently became my father-in-law." Mac married Constance Kendall in 1950, whom he had adored through high school and college. Connie taught school for four years in Kansas City, while Mac completed medical school. In 1955, after an internship at the University of Kansas Medical Center, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy and served as a Lieutenant in the Medical Corps, assigned as battalion surgeon with the U.S. Marines in Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, and Okinawa, Japan. When he returned from service, Connie and Mac moved to Rochester, Minnesota. In 1957, he entered the Mayo School of Graduate Medical Education as a fellow in surgery. Mac was appointed a Mayo Clinic consultant in surgery in 1962. They raised four children in Rochester and Mac's career enabled them to travel the world. Doctor McIlrath advanced through the academic ranks and became professor of surgery at Mayo Clinic College of Medicine in 1974. He was chair of the Department of Surgery from 1979 to 1987. He served as a member of the Mayo Board of Governors from1979 to 1986 and the Mayo Foundation Board of Trustees from 1979 to 1987. Doctor McIlrath was active and received honors in numerous professional associations and was president of the Association for Clinical Surgery, the Minnesota Surgical Society and the Continental Surgical Club. He retired from Mayo in 1993. His legacy includes outstanding surgical skills that were recognized nationally and internationally. He was dedicated to training residents and helping them become talented surgeons. He emphasized that every patient should be made to feel special by giving them undivided attention and showing compassion by knowing about their occupations, hometowns and family. Two years after Connie's death in 1986, Mac fell in love with and married Alice Hoffman. He and Alice enjoyed a vibrant life in retirement that included traveling, gardening, tennis, opera and participating in the Minnesota cultural community. He was a passionate student of history, both of his family and the world. This expanded to his serving on the Board of the Minnesota Historical Society from 1994 to 2002. He was preceded in death by his parents, Donald and Lera McIlrath; sister, Ruth Claassen; wife, Constance Kendall McIlrath; son James Christner McIlrath; daughter, Laura McIlrath; and wife, Alice Hoffman McIlrath. He is survived by his sister, Anne (Kirk) Winkelmeyer of Fort Collins; daughter, Jane (Doug) Ritts of Duluth; son, Robert (Barbara) McIlrath of St. Paul; stepson, Harry (Julie) Hoffman of Rochester; stepdaughter, Martha Hoffman of St. Paul; seven grandchildren: Alexandra and Andrew Ritts, Emily, Christina and Benjamin Gosack, Peter and William Hoffman, and two great grandchildren, Theodore and Iris. He is also survived by many beloved nieces and nephews. Mac loved his family, he loved Mayo and he loved Rochester. His family would like to thank Charter House Assisted Living and Season's Hospice for expert and loving care. A memorial service will be held at First Presbyterian Church in Rochester, Minnesota at 11:00 am April 18. Visitation will be held one hour prior to the service at the church. Followed by a reception at Rochester Golf and Country Club. Memorials are suggested to Minnesota Historical Society. Ranfranz and Vine Funeral Home is honored to be serving the McIlrath family. Condolence: