Kiser estate donates historic sum to pediatrics dept.

A $17.2 million donation will allow Duke’s Department of Pediatrics to expand research and training programs for future physicians.
A $17.2 million donation will allow Duke’s Department of Pediatrics to expand research and training programs for future physicians.

The School of Medicine’s Department of Pediatrics has received $17.2 million as a gift through the Kiser estate—the largest donation in the department’s history.

Dr. Glenn Kiser and his late wife, Muriel, were long-time benefactors of Duke Children’s Hospital and Health Center. The gift will fund the Kiser-Arena Endowed Professorship in Pediatrics and two Glenn A. Kiser and Eltha Muriel Kiser Endowed Professorships in addition to establishing the Kiser Scholars Program.

The named professorships are for leaders in pediatric education and research, while the Kiser Scholars Program will provide an endowment to retain and provide resources for researchers and educational initiatives.

The Kisers’ gift will affect countless lives, Dr. Joseph St. Geme III, chair of the Department of Pediatrics, wrote in an e-mail.

“This gift will position the Department of Pediatrics to expand research programs and train future physicians in a wide range of complex children’s health problems,” he wrote. “We are excited about the opportunity it presents to recruit new faculty, fuel research funding and to continue our training programs for future specialists in children’s health.”

Glenn Kiser, who passed away in 2009, was a pediatrician in several locations, including the Children’s Hospital, and his wife was an elementary school teacher. As dedicated members of the Duke community, it came as no surprise that Duke’s pediatrics department would be remembered in the Kisers’ will, said Susan Glenn, executive director of development at Duke Children’s Hospital.

“We had no idea of the magnitude of the gift,” she said.

Kiser’s dedication to Duke began when he graduated from the School of Medicine in 1941, and he then completed his residency training in pediatrics at Duke in 1947. He spent a major part of his career as a pediatrician for the Children’s Hospital.

Throughout his career, Kiser helped conceptualize and advocate for childproof safety caps for containers, preventing children from being poisoned by lye and other household chemicals.

In addition to working at Duke Children’s Hospital, Kiser opened and operated a pediatrics practice in Salisbury, N.C. and later served as chief of pediatrics and chief of staff at Rowan Regional Medical Center.

Kiser and his wife have a history of philanthropy. In 1994, they donated $1 million to Duke Children’s Hospital for the construction of the McGovern-Davison Building.

“He and his wife both felt a strong responsibility to the community and were leading philanthropists in North Carolina,” St. Geme said.

Many of the people who currently work in the pediatrics department never had the opportunity to meet the distinguished pediatrician.

“I wish that I had known Dr. Kiser as he was obviously a remarkable man who was very talented and very generous,” Associate Chair of the Department of Pediatrics Dr. Thomas Kinney, Trinity ’66 and Med ’70, wrote in an e-mail. “He truly had a deep affection for Duke and Duke Pediatrics.”

According to a Duke release, the Kisers gained their wealth by early investment in Food Lion, Inc., when it was still a local grocery store. It was through the company’s success that the Kisers were able to fund their philanthropic activities.

“He was a wonderful community member, but he was very unassuming. He lived very modestly,” Glenn said. “You would have met him and never would have realized that he was a multimillionaire. He was a true philanthropist.”


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