Richard L. Kahler, M.D.

By Montecito Journal   |   March 15, 2022

Richard Lee Kahler, MD, FACC, beloved husband, cherished father and grandfather, and treasured family member and friend, died peacefully at home on February 21, 2022, at the age of 89. Dick was a longtime resident of La Jolla, Rancho Santa Fe, and Montecito, California, before moving to Colorado in his final decade. Professionally, Dr. Kahler was a distinguished cardiologist, practicing at Scripps Clinic in La Jolla nearly his entire career. 

Born in Milltown, New Jersey, on January 2, 1933, Dick was the second son of Odette M. and Lewis R. Kahler. He attended Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, where he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. He was admitted to Yale School of Medicine after three years of study, leaving college before his degree was conferred. Much to his amusement, Dr. Kahler became a member of the Rutgers Class of 2021 when the university belatedly awarded him his BA Summa Cum Laude in biological sciences. 

Dr. Kahler graduated Cum Laude from Yale School of Medicine in 1957, and was named to Alpha Omega Alpha, the national medical honor society. He married Diane Wallace Dunn in 1958 while an Assistant Resident in Medicine at Johns Hopkins Hospital. After medical residencies at Hopkins and Yale, Dr. Kahler joined the National Institutes of Health as a commissioned officer of the U.S. Public Health Service. He next returned to Yale as Chief Resident in Medicine, before again serving the N.I.H. at the National Heart Institute. He rejoined Yale in 1965 as Associate Professor of Medicine. 

Dr. Kahler was subsequently recruited to lead the Department of Cardiology at Scripps Clinic in La Jolla, and in 1968 he, Diane, and their three children moved from Connecticut to California. After his first marriage ended in divorce, Dick was introduced to the great love of his life, Jan Ann Knight. They married in June, 1983, and joyfully became parents to two sons. 

Dr. Kahler retired from medical practice in 1995. For many years after retirement, he enjoyed ongoing professional education, particularly the annual Williamsburg, Virginia, Conference on Heart Disease. Dick maintained lifelong interests in science, music, technology, baseball, genealogy, and puzzles of all kinds. His family will be forever inspired by his rare intelligence, humility, sense of humor, exceptional commitment to his patients, and devotion to those he loved. 

Dick was predeceased by his parents; his brother, Ronald Lewis Kahler; and his eldest son, David Marc Kahler, M.D. He is survived by his wife, Jan Ann; his daughter, Sally Kahler Phillips (Hunter); his three sons: Geoffrey Lee Kahler (Reini Winter), Christopher Knight Kahler, and James Hall Kahler (Luzon); and his six grandchildren. A private graveside service will be held in April, 2022. The family kindly requests that those wishing to honor Dick’s life make a memorial gift to:

The Richard L. Kahler, M.D., Endowment for Music at Colonial Williamsburg, or to the charity of their choice.


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