Obituary: Robert Jenkins, Jr. / Finleyville's lone doctor when he started in 1975

Jan. 2, 1944 - June 13, 2011

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When he began a medical practice in Finleyville in 1975, Robert Jenkins Jr. was the only doctor in town.

He practiced general medicine there until his death Monday of heart failure at St. Clair Hospital in Mt. Lebanon. He was 67.

His wife, Mary Roberts Jenkins, a nurse who worked with Dr. Jenkins, persuaded him to set up a practice in Finleyville, her hometown, because there was no doctor there to serve the community's needs.

He did so gladly and became a fixture of the community for more than 35 years. He was also a member of the board of directors at Monongahela Valley Hospital and an administrator at Havencrest Nursing Center in Monongahela.

Dr. Jenkins' father was a physician, and so were his grandfather and a brother. Dr. Jenkins' son, Leonard Jenkins of Morningside, is a doctor. Dr. Jenkins took the family legacy seriously.

"He said he hoped he could be half the doctor his father was," remembered Conrad Jenkins, another son, of Virginia Beach, Va.

His patients knew Dr. Jenkins as thorough and sensitive. "He was one of the few physicians that I know that really took the time to listen to what you have to say," said Michael McCall of South Park, who was Dr. Jenkins' patient -- and eventually his friend -- for more than 25 years.

Mr. McCall said he faces a dilemma in finding another man like Dr. Jenkins.

Though Dr. Jenkins was born in Newark, N.J., he grew to love Pittsburgh. He and Mrs. Jenkins met as undergraduates at the University of Pittsburgh, when he asked her to dance at a freshman mixer. They married a few years later, when Dr. Jenkins was a medical student at Pitt, and Mrs. Jenkins had transferred to Mercy School of Nursing. They remained in the city after graduating, living first in the North Hills and later in the South Hills.

"We were a very tight-knit family, and this is going to leave a big hole," Mrs. Jenkins said.

Dr. and Mrs. Jenkins and their four children -- daughter Elizabeth Griffin of Mechanicsville, Va., and sons Robert III of Charleston, S.C., Leonard and Conrad -- were adventurous as well as close.

Together, they learned to ski and scuba-dive and went boating, water-skiing and spelunking.

"I did draw the line when the boys decided to bungee jump," Mrs. Jenkins said.

It was usually his sons, not Dr. Jenkins, who instigated the adventures. His own hobbies included electric train sets and woodworking; he liked to pass out handmade wooden spoons to friends and neighbors. But he was always happy to go along for the ride -- unless it was on a motorcycle, and his wife was driving.

"It started out we had one motorcycle," Mrs. Jenkins said. "But neither of us could learn how to drive to suit the other, so we ended up with two motorcycles."

Then, they'd enjoy the winding country roads in Finleyville -- side by side, on separate bikes.

In addition to his wife and four children, Dr. Jenkins is survived by a brother, Reginald Jenkins of West Orange, N.J., three grandchildren and a great-grandson.

Friends will be received from 7 to 9 p.m. Monday at Kegel Funeral Home, 3560 Washington Ave., Finleyville, where services will be held at 1 p.m. Tuesday, and burial will follow in Jefferson Memorial Park Mausoleum, Pleasant Hills.

Memorial contributions may be made to Monongahela Valley Hospital, 1163 County Club Road, Monongahela, PA 15063.


Jacqueline Feldman: jfeldman@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1964.


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