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Lawyer was pioneer in trauma medicine

Patrick Varine
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Roland T. Keddie, M.D., J.D., 87, a longtime resident of Cecil, passed away at home, peacefully surrounded by his family on Sunday, May 22, 2016, from complications of heart failure.

Anyone who was a patient in a Pittsburgh-area emergency room from the 1960s onward likely owes a debt of thanks to Dr. Roland Keddie.

Dr. Keddie was a pioneer in trauma medicine and director for multiple emergency medical departments in Western Pennsylvania.

Roland T. Keddie of Cecil died Sunday, May 22, 2016, from complications of heart failure. He was 87.

He was born in 1928 in Altoona, a son of Jessie Keddie.

Dr. Keddie was a Navy veteran of World War II and the Korean War, serving as an electronic technician.

In addition to his medical and military careers, Dr. Keddie decided in the late 1960s to become a lawyer.

“Out of medical school, my father developed a medical practice in the Circleville area and worked full-time for about a decade; then he decided he needed to go to law school,” said his son Robert, 56, of Peters, Washington County. “He started working in emergency rooms, mostly on nights and weekends, and he would attend the University of Pittsburgh during the day to go to law school.”

A doctor since 1957, Dr. Keddie returned to Pitt and received his juris doctor degree in 1970.

“He had a (legal) office in Greensburg, and he also worked at Westmoreland Hospital during that time,” Robert said. “He was very crucial, and at the forefront, of developing the specialties of family medicine and emergency room medicine. He helped train a lot of the people who were there.”

In addition, Dr. Keddie worked at Conemaugh Valley Hospital during the 1977 Johnstown Flood, at Shadyside Hospital in Pittsburgh and at McKeesport Hospital.

“He became president of the Emergency Medical Services Institute, and in that capacity he was called to testify for the state legislature,” Robert said. “He was associated with a number of law firms in Downtown Pittsburgh, and a lot of them would call on him to give expert testimony on matters involving medical and legal issues.”

Dr. Keddie raised his family in North Huntingdon on a 150-acre farm where his children learned to ride horses, said his son Chip, also of Peters.

“We were all part of the 4-H Club, and we learned about riding and showing the animals,” Chip said.

Robert said his father loved the outdoors and instilled that love in his children.

“We were taught everything from canoeing and camping to hunting and archery,” he said. “We had hunting camps up north in the Allegheny National Forest, and we’d travel all over the state hunting. Sometimes we’d bring friends and we’d have two dozen people canoeing and camping on the (Clarion) River.”

Dr. Keddie never stopped learning, Chip said.

“He was kind of a Renaissance man,” he said. “He had an extremely inquisitive mind. In retirement, he’d still read just about anything, from a quantum physics textbook to the Quran and the Bible.

“And he’s the only person I ever heard say that law school was ‘pretty easy to get through.’ ”

Dr. Keddie was a practicing physician until his retirement in 2001.

“He was a prominent member of the community, but he remained a very humble man,” Robert said.

Dr. Keddie was predeceased by a son, Kevin. He is survived by his wife, Suzanne; three daughters, Karen, Rosemary and Dawn Keddie; five sons, Robert, Chip, Tom, Mike and Andy; 13 grandchildren; and 10 great-grandchildren.

Friends will be received from 10 to 11 a.m., the time of a funeral service, Thursday at Beinhauers, 2828 Washington Road, McMurray.

Memorial contributions can be made to the Western PA School for the Deaf, 300 E. Swissvale Ave., Pittsburgh, PA 15218.

Patrick Varine is a staff writer for the Tribune-Review. He can be reached at 724-850-2862 or [email protected].

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