Legacy of ‘Dr. K’

Summer 2013

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The late Dr. Francis Kumar was by occupation a professor and anesthesiologist, but by aptitude he was also a writer, poet and philosopher, who was known in his department for his warmth and humor. His wfie, Connie Cofer, has created a fund that will continue his legacy of helping others to make the most of their education.

The late Dr. Francis Kumar was by occupation a professor and anesthesiologist, but by aptitude he was also a writer, poet and philosopher, who was known in his department for his warmth and humor. His wfie, Connie Cofer, has created a fund that will continue his legacy of helping others to make the most of their education.

Never too busy for a student or colleague, Dr. Francis Kumar always kept his door at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center open. Described by friends and co-workers as a Renaissance man, “Dr. K” was as well-versed in philosophy and poetry as he was in his chosen field of anesthesiology. When he died unexpectedly from an embolism in 2012 at the age of 56, his wife, Connie Cofer, wanted to honor his memory and continue to inspire students in his department.



The Dr. Francis Kumar Resident Education Enrichment Fund in Anesthesiology is designed to do just that. It will provide travel and other funding for anesthesiology students to attend national conferences and workshops, present papers and network with other health care professionals.



“He loved his job,” said Cofer. “He loved working with people. And to give students more opportunities to be educated and to carry on what he did seemed like the right way to honor him.”



Kumar was born and raised in India, but came to the United States to complete his residency in anesthesiology at City of Faith in Tulsa. At one point he left a successful private practice in Chickasha to devote time to his other passions—studying philosophy and writing.



He met Cofer in 1992 when her mother needed a biopsy. He came to the hospital room an hour early to talk with the family. “He made us all so comfortable,” recalls Cofer. After her mother was out of anesthesia, he asked Connie for her phone number.



The couple moved to Oklahoma City, and Kumar returned to HSC to practice and teach. Dr. Jane Fitch, chair of the Department of Anesthesiology, said he was “the soul of the department.”



“He was incredibly warm and genuine and kind and helpful,” she said, “and he helped that mindset permeate throughout the department. I think that was his greatest legacy.”



Kumar’s love of the written word compelled him to become a voracious and lifelong reader and collector of books. His obituary stated that “consciously and with great clarity of thought, he could easily write poetry or an instructive article in anesthesiology. His desire to be a better man tomorrow than he was today helped contribute to his large and extensive library, which he freely shared with anyone that might have a need or desire to ‘read a good book’. Those closest to him will remember his love of life, and his easy ability to make others laugh.”



The 2013-14 recipient of the Dr. Francis Kumar Resident Education Enrichment Fund in Anesthesiology is Dr. Stacey Oliver, who will use it to cover costs of attending the National American Society of Anesthesiologists meeting.