OBITUARY

Louis Joseph Girard MD

March 29, 1919December 27, 2010

Louis Joseph Girard, M.D., F.A.C.S. passed away peacefully at his home on the 27th of December 2010, surrounded by his family. He was born in Spokane, Washington on the 29th of March 1919, to Harry and Agnes Cain Girard. Dr. Girard’s parents settled in Houston in 1932, when Harry Girard was invited to conduct and direct the first Houston Grand Opera. Dr. Girard was a graduate of Rice University (Distinguished Alumnus), and the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston (Distinguished Alumnus), where he was a member of the Alpha Kappa Fraternity.

During World War II, Dr. Girard served in the U.S. Army Medical Corps, stationed at Fort Belvoir, VA. He was appointed Chief of the Eye, Ear, Nose and Throat Service of the 1200-bed Regional Station Hospital. He completed his residency in Ophthalmology at New York Eye and Ear Infirmary (Distinguished Alumnus). He also earned a fellowship in ophthalmic surgery with Dr. Conrad Berens, an internationally famous ophthalmologist.

In 1953, Dr. Girard was invited back to Houston to help develop the Department of Ophthalmology at Baylor College of Medicine. He was promoted to Professor and Chairman in 1957, and, at age 38, was the youngest full professor of ophthalmology in the U.S. and the first full-time academic ophthalmologist in the Southwest. During this period, he was the ophthalmologist and ophthalmic surgeon of the late President Lyndon B. Johnson. He entered private practice in 1970 and continued as Clinical Professor at Baylor until his retirement in 1998 at age 79.

Dr. Girard is responsible for many milestones in the field of ophthalmology. He conducted the first clinical investigation of corneal contact lenses in 1949 and was the first to perform and describe corneoscleral transplantation in 1954. Dr. Girard co-designed the first small thin corneal contact lens in 1958 as well as co-authored the first published book on corneal contact lenses with Joseph Soper. He invented 25 surgical instruments, including the Girard Ultrasonic Fragmentor for intraocular surgery, the Girard Keratoprosthesis (plastic cornea), and introduced numerous innovations in ophthalmic surgical procedures. Dr. Girard established the first eye bank in the Southwest, now Lions Eye Bank; the first Institute of Ophthalmology in the Southwest, now the Cullen Eye Institute; the first three-year ophthalmic residency program in the Southwest; the first ophthalmic tissue culture laboratory in the world; and the first international ophthalmic congresses in the Southwest. He was author of 11 books, producer of 73 scientific films (several of which won international awards), author of 404 scientific articles, and presenter of 1308 scientific presentations in 39 countries. Dr. Girard was inducted into the Hall of Fame by Alcon Laboratories Inc. of Ft. Worth.

A devoted father to seven children, Louis always found time to enjoy all sports, particularly sailing while spending summers at Texas Corinthian Yacht Club. The children’s fondest memories of their father were around the piano learning seven part harmony for The Sound of Music and singing Phantom of the Opera songs. Louis was passionate, singing and playing the piano at every opportunity for friends and strangers alike throughout his worldwide travels. In 1940 Louis expressed his love of music and his devotion to his alma mater by writing the lyrics for the “The Rice Fight Song”. In 1947 Bill Ross joined Louis and composed “The Rice Hymn”, set to music composed by his father, Harry. Both of these tributes are still in use today.

Louis was preceded in death by his parents, sister (Kathryn Kuns), brother (Harry Girard), and son (Sandy Girard). He is survived by his beloved wife of 36 years, Louise Bell Girard, and his children: Michelle Richey, Suzanne Thackston (Robert), Christina Girard, Lee Girard (Lady Anne), Gabrielle Sorrell (Andy), and Louis M. Girard (Sophie). He is also survived by his twelve grandchildren: Hilaire Kallendorf, Amy Richey, Sarah Johnson, Mark Skelton II, Wesley Skelton, Beverly Sandel, Miguel Fabregas, Maria Fabregas de Casinello, Wilhelmina Hudson, and Margaret, Susanna, and Caroline Girard, and ten great grandchildren: Trevor and Barrett Kallendorf, Joseph, Jane, Jill, and Jack Sandel, Claudio, Lorenzo, and Mateo Casinello Fabregas, and Hudson Skelton.

The family deeply appreciates the devoted and constant care of Julia Wade and the Lighthouse Hospice. Friends are cordially invited to gather and share remembrances with the family from two until five o’clock in the afternoon on Sunday, the 2nd of January, in the Parlor of Geo. H. Lewis & Sons, 1010 Bering Drive in Houston.

A memorial mass is to be offered at ten o’clock in the morning on Monday, the 3rd of January, at St. Anne Catholic Church, 2120 Westheimer Road in Houston, where the Rev. Al Sinasac is to officate. Immediately following the mass, all are invited to greet the family during a reception in the adjacent St. Teresa’s Living Room in the Parish Hall.

In lieu of customary remembrances, kindly consider a contribution in Dr. Girard’s memory to the Alzheimer’s Association, 2242 West Holcombe Blvd., Houston, TX, 77030-2008; the Lions Eye Bank of Texas, 6565 Fannin Street, Houston, TX, 77030; or to a charity of one’s choice

Services

  • Visitation with the Family

    Sunday, January 2, 2011

  • Memorial Mass

    Monday, January 3, 2011

Memories

Louis Joseph Girard MD

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Martha Kershner

December 26, 2020

Dr . Girard according to my family saved my vision with surgery he did to correct my severely crossed eyes. I believe from history he did 2 surgeries 1 at Texas Children’s and 1 at Houston Methodist hospital. I remember very vividly his assistant Dr. Moore that calmed me so very much!

Tina

September 1, 2011

I am so sorry to see your death. How I wish you were still alive for this day! In researching it seems you performed a cataract surgery on me and at the time I was the youngest ever for that type back in January 1970 (I was 11 months old). I remained blind in that one eye however in the past two months vision is coming back in full force with color, detail and peripheral vision. In reading your obituary it seems I might be able to find a paper on my case to give me some further insight!

Melinda Rice

January 15, 2011

Dearest Lou,

I continue to hold you in my prayers for our Lords comfort during this time of loss of your precious husband. I don't believe I have met anyone else like Dr. Lou, who not only was cheerful, talented and inspirational, but his zest for life was amazing. He remains in my mind as one of the most beautiful personalities in my life. His light will shine forever, bask in the glow and know you'll see him again one day. Be joyful always in this promise from God.

With Love Always,
Minnie

Donatella, Fred and Alistair Benckenstein

January 10, 2011

Dear Louise,
It is with such great sadness that we received the news regarding sweet Louie. What a special man he was, a brilliant mind, a caring husband and father, a loving friend, a "gentle" man and gentleman. He stole the hearts of so many because of his kind and upbeat personality, his contagious smile and sparkling eyes. Louie knew no strangers. He welcomed everyone into his heart, his home as though all were part of his big family, one where music and song always filled the air, where laughter and "joie de vivre" prevailed. Fred, Alistair and I felt so so fortunate to have known such an amazing man, such a special individual with so many talents, from his medical expertise, to his singing, to his piano playing skills, to his love of tennis, the water, the dogs, the trees, everything that lives.
Simply said, we loved Louie, and will always do so, and will continue to reminisce those wonderful times spent together with family and friends in Magnolia, and finally, last Summer, our visit in Houston, marked by an amazing duet sung by the two of you !
Woaw! He was amazing. Even through his illness, he always kept that sweet smile on his face. We will miss him, but thank God for having given us such a fine human being to experience, one who was generous enough to take us under his wing when we first arrived in Houston, and introduced us to the apple of his eye, his sweet Louise. We are so proud of what you have done and did to make his life better and more comfortable. You are the best Louise.
Farewell sweet Louie, may you rest in Peace in the loving arms of God, and may you borrow his instruments and play sweet music for all every now and then!We will hear you.
Our heartfelt condolences to all of the Girards, including Micky, Susie, Gabrielle, Christina, Lee and Louis and families.
Forever grateful and in loving memory,
Donatella, Fred and Alistair Benckenstein

Debbie Thackston Potter

January 10, 2011

Dear Louise, I was so sad to hear from Robert and Susie that Louie had passed away. Such a brilliant man and gracious host. His wit and beautiful singing voice will be greatly missed. He left such a wonderful legacy in you and all of his children that I guess there was just nothing left to do in one life time. After having read his obituary I am proud to just have known him. I never knew he was so accomplished. The world will be a little quieter without him. My family's prayers are with you Louise, and the rest of your large extended family.

robert c. welsh, md welsh

January 8, 2011

LOUIE WILL ALWAYS REMAIN IN OUR HEARTS. OUR HISTORY WITH HIM IS ONE OF JOY MINGLED WITH EDUCATION IN OPHTHALMOLOGY. HE FOUND THE FUN UUBUINLIFE. HIS WAS A VIBRANT SPIRIT FILLED WITH a great ZEST FOR LIFE. HIS CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE WELSH CONTACT LES CONFERENCES AND THE 8 WELSH CATARACT CONGRESSES ARE LEGENDARY. LOUISE COMPLETED HIS EXTRAORDINARY LIFE. WE'LL ALWAYS LOVE YOU LOU...
LOVE DR. BOB &JUDI WELSH.

Wanda (Dub's office) Dowell

January 4, 2011

To the Girard family,

I am so sorry for your loss. What an incredible person, this man was. He was always so interested in the well-being of everyone he met and their interests. All of you are a living testament to the kind of person he was...loving, respectful, generous, compassionate. We are all better to have known this man. My thoughts and prayers are with you all, during this time. He will truly be missed.

Amy and Dan Wax

January 3, 2011

Dear Louise,
Dan and I send our thoughts and prayers to you for the loss of the love of your life, Louie. The love you both had for each other was inspiring.
He was such a remarkable, talented and generous man not only in the medical field but also musically.
We know that God opened his arms, welcomed Louie home and told him job well done.
And Louie was smiling…..
We were blessed to have been able to spend time with you both.
May you and his children find peace knowing he has gone ahead with God, but is still with you in your hearts.

Lorena & Rollin Astra

January 3, 2011

Dear Louise & Family,

Lorena and I were deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Dr. Girard, who in our minds was a remarkably talented, kind, and generous man.

As you may recall, Dr. Girard restored Lorena’s eyesight not once but numerous times and did so at no cost to her family who regrettably lacked the funds to cover the cost of the multiple hospitalizations, surgeries, and assorted professional fees. Dr. Girard presumably bore those himself.

In fact, it was Dr. Girard who, on August 18, 1995, took time out from his busy schedule to give Lorena away at our wedding. Losing her own father at an early age, Lorena tended to cast Dr. Girard in the same role, repeatedly calling upon his wisdom and advice—all of which was sound and well considered.

In the time to come, please know we grieve along with you and like countless other people, we too will remember Dr. Girard with much deserved warmth and fondness.

Warmest best wishes,

Wayne and Janie Patterson

January 2, 2011

Dear Louise,

Janie and I want to express our sympathy to you and the rest of the Girard family. We will always remember the ski trip with you at the Hricik's in Vail. Trying to keep up with you, Anita and David almost killed me, but Louis' vodka martini brought me back to life.

My father said life is not the destination, but the journey. Louis' life was a journey that is a inspiration to those of us who knew him.

Wayne and Janie Patterson

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