Dr. Charles McKhann Jr. - Professor Western Reserve University

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Dr. Charles F. McKhann
Dr. Charles F. McKhann

Dr. Charles F. McKhann Jr. came to Cleveland in 1945 to be a pediatrics professor at Western Reserve University and medical chief of Babies and Children’s Hospital. Dr. McKhann stimulated regional interest in the hospital. He brought together many local pediatricians from other northern Ohio cities at weekly clinical meetings at that hospital. Here, specialists in children’s diseases presented and discussed cases about diagnosis and treatment and listened to Cleveland and other cities’ speakers on numerous subjects in or related to pediatrics. Sometimes the meetings were so crowded that there was standing room only.

Dr. McKhann, an important national figure in pediatrics, resigned from his post at Western Reserve on December 8, 1950. He said that his resignation came about because of “an irreconcilable difference of opinion in various reasons with some of the medical school’s staff members. Dr. John Millis, president of the university, did not comment other than that the resignation had been accepted and would become effective December 31, 1950.

Charles Fremont McKhann Jr. was born December 21, 1898, in Cincinnati, Ohio, to Charles and Mary McKhann. He was a graduate of the school of medicine at the University of Cincinnati.

During World War II, he was a consultant to the army for the control of epidemics. He was a consultant to the education and training division of the surgeon general’s office.

He was a member of the Harvard Medical School faculty for more than 15 years, his last appointment there being an associate professor of pediatrics and communicable diseases. Later, he became a professor of pediatrics and infectious diseases at the University of Michigan.

Before coming to Cleveland, Dr. McKhann was assistant to the president in charge of research, at Parke, Davis & Co., in Detroit. Here he was known for his work in feeding children and on fractionization of serum and the use of serum fractions in the treatment of infectious diseases.

In December 1950, after resigning from Western Reserve University, Dr. McKhann was elected a member of the executive committee to research the United Cerebral Palsy Association of New York. He was president of the American Board of Pediatrics, the certifying agency for specialists in this field.

He married Ilena Semenko, who was born in 1905.  Ilana, her mother, and her brother escaped from the Soviet Union. Her brother became the Pierre Hotel owner in New York City and was an owner of Warner Brothers Pictures.

Charles and Ilena had three sons who all became well-known doctors: Charles III of Minneapolis, Guy of Baltimore, and Serge of New York City.

Charles and Ilena left Bratenahl in 1954 to move to Boston. Ilena died on July 9, 1977, and Charles died on June 24, 1988. Both are buried in Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, Massachusetts.