Dr. William E. Kuykendall (1855-1934)

Dr. William E. Kuykendall (1855-1934) ─ Helped establish the Eugene Hospital

Three generations of medical doctors are now at rest inthe Kuykendall Lot. One of the loveliest in the cemetery, it is fitting for the gentlemen who did much for the people in “Eugene City” from early pioneer days through the 1960s.

A child of the west, the eldest, Dr. William Kuykendall, founded the Eugene Hospital and Medical Clinic on College Hill in the 1800s. Kuykendall was born in Wilbur, Oregon March 1st, 1855. Three years earlier his parents John and Malinda (Stark) Kuykendall had crossed the plains to Oregon. Their ancestor LuurJacobson Van Kuykendall originally came to America in 1646 from Holland.  Many members of the Van Kuykendall family participated in the American Revolution.   Growing up, William’s friend R.A. Booth remembers that the two met in the frontier days “when the west was still young and ox teams drew our parents westward in the same train.”

A young Kuykendall completed his medical studies at the college that would later become Stanford University. In 1876, Dr. Kuykendall married Mary Ada Alysom, after whose death he married May Rowland. He had two sons, D.V. Kuykendall and W.A. Kuykendall; two daughters, Mrs. Robert E. Smith and Mrs. E.D. McCarty.

Known as the “dean” of the medical profession in Lane county, Kuykendall was the longest practitioner in the region. He kept up with advancements in medical science and his counsel and his advice was deemed by many to be invaluable.

More than an excellent doctor, Dr. Kuykendall served as mayor of Eugene from 1897 to 1899. Later, in the state legislature as a representative from Lane County, he was instrumental in passing laws establishing high schools in Oregon. Until then, there was no link between grade schools and college.

Dr. Kuykendall relished taking part in the civic and welfare interests of the city and state. Upon his passing, dozens of associates and fellow doctors paid tribute to his local legacy.

“From his youth up, he was thoughtful and cared for others. He served thousands who entrusted their interests to his care,” read his obituary.

Indeed, generations of Eugene residents benefitted from the care of Kuykendall physicians. For example, current EPCA President Dr. Quentin Holmes was delivered in 1937 by Dr. W.A. Kuykendall. In 1966, Dr. Holmes’ daughter Elizabeth Liedermanwas born in the Eugene Hospital and attended to by yet a third generation Dr. Kuykendall.

In 1934, family patriarch Dr. William Kuykendall passed away at his residence on 1265 Willamette Street. At the time of his death he was president of the Eugene Hospital and Clinic. Kuykendall had practiced medicine for 56 years, 46 of them in Eugene.

“His greatest care was the happiness of others,” remembered friends and family.