Robert Hart Donnell


Glass Rays 1938

Dr. R. H. Donnell, Jr., physician on the factory hospital medical staff, was born near Pevely. He received most of his grade school education in Sandy school, but graduated from the eighth grade at the Hematite school His high school education was received in Festus. Continuing his education, he attended pre-medic school, and took two years in the study of medicine at Missouri University, receiving his A. B. and B. S. degrees there. He spent two years at Washington University in St. Louis, where he graduated from medical school and received his M. D. degree. During his last year at Washington University, Dr. Donnell served an externship at the Christian Old Folks home, at 6600 Washington Boulevard, in University City. He then served a one year internship at the Missouri Methodist Hospital in St. Joseph, Mo.


He came to Crystal City and joined the local hospital staff in the spring of 1937. During his first eight or nine months in Crystal City, Dr. Donnell made regular trips to St. Louis to engage in the X-ray study at Barnes Hospital. In October 1937, he opened an office on Mississippi Avenue and began practicing medicine in this community. He visits the factory hospital dialy at regular hours and is subject to calls there at any hour.


Dr. Donnell is the son of R. H. Donnell, Sr., and Grace Donnell of Hematite. His sister, Glee, is deputy recorder in the office of the county Recorder of Deeds at Hillsboro. Another sister, Mrs. Mona Taff, is employed in the Tabulating division of the Timekeeping department. His brother, Oran, is a student of Festus high school. Dr. Donnell's chief hobby is experimenting with his movie camera. He is a member of the Jefferson County Camera Club.


News Democrat Journal, October 5, 2005

Last of Original JMH Staff Doctors Dies: Dr. R. H. Donnell, believed to be the last surviving original staff physician at Jefferson Memorial Hospital, died Sept. 27, 2005, at his home in south St. Louis County. He was 93 and formerly lived in Crystal City. A radiologist, Dr. Donnell was on staff when the hospital opened May 15, 1957. He also maintained a private practice on Mississippi Avenue in Crystal City. In addition, he served as a company physician for Pittsburgh Plate Glass Co. in Crystal City for more than 50 years.


Dr. Donnell was born in a log cabin on March 18, 1912, at Sandy Creek in rural Jefferson County to the late Grace E. (Adams) and Robert Hart Donnell. He graduated from Festus High School in 1929, earned an undergraduate degree from the University of Missouri and his medical degree from Washington University in 1936 due to the generosity and encouragement of his teacher and mentor, Zoe Booth Rutledge. Dr. Donnell served in World War II in England, working in an Army facility that treated soldiers returning from D-Day and other European operations. He married Evelyn (removed by family request) in 1947. They recently celebrated their 58th wedding anniversary. They had five sons.


Roy Burnside, the longest serving member of the board of directors at JMH, remembered Dr. Donnell as a hard working physician. Burnside ran ambulance calls for Vinyard's Funeral Home in the days before Joachim-Plattin Ambulance District was formed. "I'd come out there at night after an ambulance trip and Dr. Donnell would be out there at 10 or 11 at night," Burnside said. "He always cared about his patients." He remembered Dr. Donnell as an impeccable dresser, even after a 12 or 14 hour day. "He was very neat, very polite with everybody," Burnside said. "He had an unusual sense of humor, very dry. He and that group of doctors kept that hospital going in the early days. He was very dedicated to that hospital."


Dr. Donnell was an avid Cardinals fan, an amateur photographer and pilot. He enjoyed working in his yard and workshop of his Crystal City home, where he lived for 47 years.


Jefferson County Leader, Thursday, Oct. 6, 2005

R. Hart Donnell, M.D. 93, South St. Louis County, formerly of Crystal City, died Sept. 27, 2005 at Delmar Gardens South. He was born March 18, 1912, in Sandy, MO, the son of Robert Hart and Grace (Adams) Donnell. He was a physician, radiologist and company physician for PPG Industries for more than 50 years. He was a founding member of the American College of Radiologists, the American Medical Association, and a 50-year member of the Missouri State Medical Society. He was a Mason, a member of Festus-Crystal City Lions Club and the recipient of Festus High School Hall of Fame in 1996. He served in the U.S. Army Medical Corps during World War II. He was a member of the First Methodist Church of Festus-Crystal City.