Cole, pediatric anesthesiologist, dies at 52

Jennifer Wray Cole, MD, associate professor of anesthesiology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, died Saturday, July 2, 2011, in Jerseyville, Ill., from injuries sustained in a bicycling accident. She was 52.

Cole, of Glendale, Mo., had been a pediatric anesthesiologist at Washington University and St. Louis Children’s Hospital since 1991.


“In a specialty that requires forethought, attention to detail, vigilance and decisive action, she cared for children and families at their most vulnerable time,” says David J. Murray, MD, the Carol B. and Jerome T. Loeb Professor of Anesthesiology at the School of Medicine and chief of pediatric anesthesiology and anesthesiologist-in-chief at St. Louis Children’s Hospital.

“Regardless of how serious a child’s underlying medical condition, or how complex the operation proposed, or how distraught the child or family were about the coming surgery, she brought warmth, comfort and optimism. She radiated competence, confidence and care. To the nurses, surgeons, cardiologists, technicians and so many others who worked with her each day, and particularly on those frequently challenging days, she changed everyone’s outlook. Doing your best was simply easier when she was at the bedside.”

Cole was born Sept. 20, 1958, in New Orleans to Frances Kleinpeter Wray and Daniel A. Wray. She has one brother, Daniel A. Wray Jr. She attended high school at St. Joseph’s Academy in Baton Rouge, La., and she earned undergraduate and medical degrees from Washington University in St. Louis.

While still completing her medical training, she served as coordinator and was instrumental in organizing the St. Louis Children’s Hospital Down Syndrome Clinic. She served as president of the Alumni Executive Council for Washington University School of Medicine and cheerfully accepted numerous other professional committee assignments throughout her career.

An avid athlete and barefoot water skiing enthusiast, she completed three Ironman triathlons, more than two dozen marathons and half-marathons and many other competitive races. She mentored and inspired many friends and family members to participate in physical activity.

Cole met her husband, Clark, while both were students at Louisiana State University in 1977, and they were married in Baton Rouge Aug. 8, 1981. They have four children: Shannon, 28; Rusty, 26; Frances, 25; and Perry, 21.

She is survived by her husband and children; her brother; her stepmother, Janice Wray; brothers-in-law James Perry Cole III and James F. Kuhne; sisters-in-law Susan Cole Kuhne and Kristen Wray; nieces Kristen Wray Cascio and Liz Kuhne; and nephews James F. Kuhne Jr., Jeff Kuhne, Jason Kuhne, Bryan Cole and David Cole.

Visitation is from 3-8 p.m. Wednesday, July 6, at Bopp Chapel in Kirkwood, Mo. A funeral Mass will be celebrated at 10 a.m. Thursday, July 7, at St. Francis Xavier College Church in St. Louis.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to W.A.C. Industries (sheltered workshop), 9727 Green Park Industrial Dr., St. Louis, MO 63123.