The Lasting Impact of a Great Doctor: Ocean County Donor Honors Dr. James Clarke
March 22, 2023
Anne O’Neill Kellers met James Clarke, M.D., not too long after she and her husband, Jay, moved to Ocean County more than 30 years ago.
Dr. Clarke was a young family doctor affiliated with what was then known as Brick Hospital (Medical Center of Ocean County), now Hackensack Meridian Ocean University Medical Center.
Anne was one of Dr. Clarke’s first patients when he began practicing in Brick after a stint in Florida. The Kellers had planned to retire at their new home in Lakewood but were still commuting to jobs in North Jersey, where Anne was an English teacher at Lincoln High School in Jersey City and Jay, the former mayor of Atlantic Highlands, was a telecommunications engineer.
Emergency room doctors were stumped when Jay fell ill in 1990. But Dr. Clarke was able to diagnose him with a rare disorder - then called Wegener’s granulomatosis (now called granulomatosis with polyangiitis) - an inflammation of the blood vessels in the nose, sinus, throat, lungs and kidneys.
Dr. Clarke sent Jay for further treatment at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia and attentively monitored his care there and during later trips to the hospital in Brick. “Dr. Clarke kept in touch all the time. He would come on a Sunday to meet us in the emergency room, and he wouldn’t leave until my husband had a room,” remembered Anne.
At the time, Jay’s diagnosis could mean less than a year to live, said Anne. But he lived for nearly five more years before passing away in 1995 at age 68. She credits Dr. Clarke’s quick and astute diagnosis and vigilant care for prolonging her husband’s life.
Anne, now 81, is a longtime donor to Ocean University Medical Center Foundation and recently dedicated a large planned gift in Dr. Clarke’s honor – a testament to the enduring impact of a good doctor.
“I could not have had a better doctor ever,” said Anne. “You have no idea how bright and good this man is.” She noted Clarke’s great bedside manner and upbeat disposition: “If you were in the waiting room and you’d hear his laugh it just made you feel better.” An added bonus was that Dr. Clarke was originally from Jersey City, where she lived and taught for so many years.
Dr. Clarke was Anne’s doctor for 20 years before he became an administrator, first at the hospital in Brick, then the Meridian Health network and now Hackensack Meridian Health, where he currently serves as president of Physician Enterprise, a group that involves nearly 1,800 providers.
The doctor fondly remembers Jay Kellers, who also was an aviator and whose engineering career took him around the world on some high-profile assignments for RCA and other firms. “He was a great guy, we developed a bond,” said Dr. Clarke. “And Anne is a remarkable person; always very supportive. She was a true advocate for her husband, there by his side at every minute, for every decision. They were a wonderful couple.”
Thank you to Anne for her generosity in honor of Dr. Clarke’s incredible care of her late husband, Jay. To make a gift in honor of a doctor or physician close to your heart, please click here or contact our team at email@example.com to learn more.
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