John C. Kelleher, III, MD

John C. Kelleher
John C. Kelleher

John C. Kelleher, III, MD

1970-2020

John died peacefully on the morning of January 26, 2020, surrounded by his family in West Hollywood, California. He was 49.

Born in Dallas, Texas, December 9, 1970 – his paternal grandmother’s 50th birthday – John touched many lives throughout his lifetime in all the places he lived: Dallas, TX; Toledo, OH; Amarillo, TX; Providence, RI; Nagoya, Japan; New York City, NY; and Los Angeles, CA. Those who were fortunate to know John, loved him deeply. John demonstrated a genuine kindness and compassion for every person he encountered. His ever-gracious demeanor garnered him friendships wherever he went.  Even in his last days he was fist bumping doctors, complimenting a nurse on her earrings, and offering friends and visitors food and drink. Brain cancer robbed John of his language, but not his uncanny ability to make a person feel special and loved. His smile was endearing, laugh infectious, and silliness adored.

John was a dedicated actor, director, singer, dancer, cellist, and pianist. He played Linus, Snoopy, Little John, and countless other memorable parts at the Amarillo Little Theater when he was young. He later studied at the Neighborhood Playhouse in New York City. He played the cello at his sister’s wedding. He was the Nutcracker Prince in Amarillo.

He was a waiter, serving seafood towers for many years at Balthazar in New York City.

He was a reader, art lover, traveler, and knitter.

He was a consummate host.

He was a perpetual student. John graduated from Brown University in 1993 with a Bachelor of Arts in Art History and East Asian Studies, studied abroad in Nagoya, Japan, and was fluent in Japanese. He studied medicine, also at Brown, with an emphasis on psychiatry, and completed his residency in psychiatry at UCLA.

So that he could deepen his understanding of the mind and further help his patients, John was in the process of completing his psychoanalytic training at The New Center for Psychoanalysis in Los Angeles when he was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. John was renowned by his colleagues for his kindness and compassion, and ability to treat difficult patients. His patients called him their friend.

He was a cherished friend, son, and brother.

He was Greg’s dear husband.    

He was Phoebe’s ever-loving Papa.

While this is the end to a truly extraordinary life, it is not the end of his legacy. John will live in all of us in the ways he impacted us, and in our hearts, minds and souls.

John is survived by his loving husband, Greg Okin, and his adventurous beautiful daughter, Phoebe Okin-Kelleher, of Los Angeles, CA; his parents, John and Cindy Kelleher of Amarillo, TX and Vail, CO; his siblings, Kristin Danford and husband Scott, (children Henry and Kelly) of Englewood, CO, Brian Kelleher and wife Amanda (children Deaven, Callie and Brenna) of Amarillo, TX, and Brooke Cozort and husband Craig (children Owen and Margaret) of Littleton, CO; and his grandmother who shares his birthday, Rose Mary Kelleher, of Toledo, OH. He was preceded in death by his grandfather John C. Kelleher, Sr. MD, and grandparents E. Henry and Harriet Leiphart, also of Toledo, OH and Naples, FL.

A celebration of John’s life will be held in Amarillo, Texas at Boxwell Brothers Funeral Home at 4pm on Sunday, February 16, 2020.  A service will also be held in Los Angeles, California at a future date, to be determined. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that you consider a donation to the LA Gay and Lesbian Center (https://donate.lalgbtcenter.org/), Amarillo Little Theater, Heal the City Free Clinic of Amarillo, or a charity of your choice.

We would like to thank everyone for all the care, concern and love. John certainly deserved and inspired devotion. He was just so easy to love.

Donations can be made to Amarillo College Conservatory Theater.

31 Replies to “John C. Kelleher, III, MD”

  1. John was my doctor for three and a half years, up until he had to close his practice. I knew him as incredibly devoted, compassionate, and kind. I have borderline personality disorder, the treatment of which John specialized in during his residency. Like the majority of those who share my diagnosis, my family background was harmful and damaging to child development. Through John’s skillful and heartfelt application of psychoanalytic technique, I was able to feel valued as a human being, and even loved, for the first time in my life. The tremendous effort and commitment he put into caring for me enabled me to feel less fear of other people, and become more able to connect with them. I will be grateful to him, and miss him, for as long as I live.

  2. John was my first resident in the psychiatric ER. We discussed food, culture and psychoanalysis in LA. His decision to pursue further training in analysis made me very happy. I remember his kindness, his insightful comments and his maturity. I am sorry he did not get to touch so many other lives.

  3. My sincere condolences to the Kelleher family. God called a mighty spirited young man home to him. He truly loved the life he lived and lived the life he loved. Rest in eternal peace in heaven.

  4. So much sympathy and many prayers to John and Cindy…I cannot imagine your pain. Greg and Phoebe, I will keep you, also, in my prayers. I pray that God will keep you wrapped in his arms through this terribly sad time.

  5. Watching him grow….the Intelligence, the humor, the big heart…..always a joy to be with. This breaks my heart, as I know it does all the friends and family….my thots and prayers are with each of you… for comfort and strength in rhese difficult days…. with more love and sorrow than I have words to express……

  6. My deepest sympathy to all of John’s family and friends on hearing this sad news. I had the honor of playing “Schroeder” along with his “Linus” which is one of my fondest memories of performing at the Amarillo Little Theater. Such a smart, fun, and talented young man.
    So sad for your loss.

  7. We have heavy hearts in learning of John’s passing. We have always been amazed to hear of his endeavors and wonderful accomplishments over the years. Nancy and I wish to send our love and prayers to Phoebe and Greg and the Kelleher family.

  8. Our deepest sympathy to John’s family and the entire Kelleher family. Certainly a loss that is so hard to explain. Our thoughts and prayers are with all of you.
    Pat and Tony Harwell

  9. Pat and I remember meeting John and little Phoebe when she was so very young. She was your typical toddler, getting into everything possible. John’s patience was was so genuine, and he seemed so proud of her. It is heartbreaking to see Greg and Phobe go on without him. And to all of the family, we extend our love and sympathy to everyone of you. Our prayers will not stop, as you will need His strength as you go on.

  10. I was a patient of Dr. John’s and still in psychotherapy with him when he got ill.
    He was the consummate professional, never mentioning his illness until he had to stop working. Dr. John was so compassionate, so smart, and so good at what he did.
    Around the time of his death I wanted to get a message to him- that I was getting married (this August) and I really wanted to let him know how grateful and thankful I was as to him for helping me get to that place.
    I miss his insight, humor and intellect and I am so saddened that his life was cut so very short. The irony that a doctor who used language as his primary tool to help people would loose speech is unimaginable.
    -Jeffrey Wolf

  11. Many prayers have gone up for John III, John ,Cindy and their family over many months.I only met J-3 a few times but he was a true gentleman …I will continue to pray for all John’s loved ones.🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻RIP young man/they will love hearing you play in heaven /the souls up there will not need doctoring👨🏻‍⚕️

  12. My heart goes out to Greg, Phoebe, John & Cindy and all the Kelleher’s who have already grieved so many losses.
    Love, prayers & hugs,
    Meg (O’Donnell) Boyer
    Toledo, Ohio

  13. My prayers are with you and your family. He was such an inspiration to others and will be deeply missed by all. His obituary was beautiful and represented his love and compassion. You are amazing parents and I’m so sorry for your loss.
    Helen Miller

  14. John was a remarkable high school student. It was a joy and privilege to teach him. My thoughts and prayers are with his family. Rest In Peace, John.

  15. The loss of John is heartbreaking, and please know that Linda and I are thinking of the Kelleher family. We have fond memories of his roles in Amarillo College Children’s Theater. We know you will always be proud of his many achievements.

  16. I had the honor of playing the violin with John sitting across from me in orchestra. He made quite an impression on me at a young age. John was a phenomenal person. Prayers are with his family….
    He was much too young to leave this world.

  17. John was one of the kindest, most decent human beings I have been lucky enough to know during his short time on this Earth. My heart goes out to his family.

  18. We are so sorry to hear this sad news. He was way too young to leave this earth. You are in our thoughts and prayers. May you all find comfort and peace.

  19. I was blessed to be his cello teacher. I adored him and his entire family. There will always be a place in my heart for John. Sharon mcdonald

  20. My mind is flooded with memories of sweet John. I fondly recall he and Hillary gleefully skipping throughout Amarillo in pursuit of silly creative adventures. It came naturally for the thespians. Always smiling, respectful and kind, John will be lovingly remembered. My thoughts and prayers go out to all of you. May you find peace.

  21. Our hearts are broken for each of you!! Rex and I send our love and prayers and lift you up for comfort, peace and healing. May God hold you tight and give you beautiful memories of of precious John 🙏🏻🙏🏻❤️❤️

    Mary Nell and Rex Lemert

  22. John’s easy manner and quick smile during residency were a bright light. His family life was and is an inspiration. I loved reading this beautiful tribute to a life well lived. We will miss you, John.

  23. He was one of the only people that EVER made me laugh until I cried…and he was just 11. I remember it like it was yesterday.
    So very sorry for your loss.

  24. Sending love and sympathy to you two. So sad to lose a beautiful creative person ! We can’t even imagine the pain. Love Dave and Mary Bechtol

  25. I had the distinct honor of working with John as a young actor at Amarillo College Theatre School for Children and Amarillo Little Theatre. He was so kind and gentle and so talented. He made all of us feel important. My thoughts are with the family and all of the many who have lost such a wonderful friend. He will be missed.

  26. Praying for your family and friends. May the Lord bless each one of you with His abundant peace. Isaiah 41:10 Fear Not, for I am with you: be not dismayed, for I am your God I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
    All my love and hugs.
    Casee

  27. So sad that his interesting life has ended . Losing a chid is horrific no matter the age.
    My prayers go to healing for you both.
    Marianne Pritchard

  28. Brian,
    Our deepest sympathy to you and your family. What a talented person your brother was. A loss for so many patients as well.
    Prayers and a hug for you,
    Kathy & Joe Tomain

  29. I knew John and performed with him at Amarillo Little Theatre. He was such a gifted and kind young man. So sorry to hear of his passing so soon. I am not at all surprised to read of his rich, well lived life. May God bless and comfort you all.

  30. Sympathy and love to John’s family and friends. We are sending our prayers and love.
    We are sad for your loss.

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