Kirby Donnelly

Dr. Kirby “K.C.” Donnelly

August 27, 1951 – July 1, 2009

K.C. Donnelly, 57, of College Station passed away Wednesday, July 1, 2009. A memorial service will be held at 3:00 PM on Sunday, July 5, 2009 at Aldersgate United Methodist Church in College Station. Dr. Bruce Wood will officiate.

K.C. was born in Huntington, West Virginia. He moved to College Station from Houston in 1969. On August 18, 1973 he married Robin Edwards Donnelly.

K.C. received a BS in Microbiology in 1974 and a Ph.D. in Toxicology in 1988 from Texas A-M University. He served as Professor and Head of the Environmental – Occupational Health Department in the School of Rural Public Health at the Texas A-M University System Health Science Center from 1999 through 2009. He was the Associate Director for the NIEHS funded Superfund Basic Research Program at Texas A-M, and Past President of the Society of Toxicology. K.C. was also a member of the FIFRA Scientific Advisory Panel for the EPA.

Other accomplishments include being a member of the Texas A-M Corps of Cadets as well as Staff Sergeant and Commanding Officer of Squadron 6. K.C. also belonged to the Brazos Valley Referee Association. He coached the Brazos Magic ’81 Soccer Team for many years and was Past Director of the Aggieland Classic Soccer Tournament.

In addition to his legacy of teaching and research, K.C. was a loving and generous man who showed kindness to everyone. He was a devout Christian and a member of Aldersgate United Methodist Church.

K.C. was preceded in death by his parents Edward James Donnelly and Hilda Rae Cornwall Donnelly, and his sister Donna Donnelly.

Survivors include his wife, Robin Donnelly; sons and daughter-in-law, Nathan and Danielle Donnelly of Simi Valley, CA, and Noah Donnelly of Van Nuys, CA; brother, Edward James Donnelly Jr. of Houston, TX and his daughter Misty Donnelly of Tampa, FL; and sister, Patsy Cochran of Ashland, KY and her daughter Suzy Stewart of Ashland, KY.

In lieu of flowers, those who wish may make a donation in K.C.’s honor to:
Office of Development (7835)
ATTN: K.C. Donnelly STEER Scholarship Fund
7703 Floyd Curl Drive
San Antonio, Texas 78229-3900
Make checks payable to UTHSCSA and note on checks: K.C. Donnelly STEER Scholarship Fund.

Please leave condolences at


  1. KC has been a wonderful colleague, an inspiration, and a treasure for the people of South Texas, and we will miss him.

  2. To Robin and the boys,
    There are not words that I can offer that will fill the space left from the loss of KC. I want you to know that he remains in my prayers as do you all. May you reach peace if you have not already, and may the sweetest memories of KC

  3. My deepest sympathies to Robin – the boys. I will remember K.C. fondly as a good friend and colleague.

  4. Our deepest and most sincere condolences to you Ms. Donnelly and your sons, know that his heart and dedicated spirit to make this world a little better especially on the Texas-Mexico border will be sorely missed but are a testament to him, he left a permanent imprint to imporve the quality of life.

  5. Dr. Donnelly was an amazing man. He had a huge impact on so many people and he will be greatly missed. My thoughts and prayers are with his family as you begin this journey without him.

  6. K.C. was my professor during the first Austin cohort MPH program and was also my practicum advisor. I was blessed to spend several days working closely with K.C. collecting samples for pesticide exposure from children living in several colonias on the Texas-Mexico border. I always knew that he was an extraordinary teacher, but it was during this hands-on experience that the unique qualities of this human being became apparent. Through all the years of dedicated efforts to improve the health quality of these under served people, K.C. was embraced not only by his colleagues, but by the communities at large. He was trusted totally by people he was collecting samples from. Everyone knew that not only science was behind his actions, but his heart as well. We know that he accomplished this not only in Texas, but all over the planet as well. K.C. was a truly humanitarian, a true hero.
    Shortly after K.C was diagnosed with cancer, we lost our son Garrett at age 15 in a tragic automobile accident. Garrett was a twin so his loss was all the more tragic for the hole it left in his surviving brothers

  7. So sorry for your loss. He was a great educator and the main reason I got into the SRPH program. He will be greatly missed.

  8. Our son Cole played soccer with Nathan starting at age 5. When they were 10 KC began coaching and we feel very blessed to have had such a wonderful coach and mentor in Cole’s life. Our friendship with KC and Robin and the boys is a very special memory and we will never forget KC. Our thoughts and prayers are with you. Yours in soccer, Mike, Linda, – Cole

  9. I am very sorry about your loss. Dr. Donnelly was a great mentor. I am so thankful that he offered me the opportunity to join the MPH program and taught me a lot of valuable lessons. He is going to be really missed.

  10. I wish to offer my condolences at the loss of a husband, father, colleague and our friend/advisor. He was a wise man with much to offer all of us. We (Austin cohort) appreciated his wit and intelligence. As the spring semester ended he shared his ‘In my own words’ presentation. We were all very moved. We all kept him in in our thoughts and prayers. He was a brave man that faced his illness with a healthy respect but also with a sense of humor. But he knew all to well in our field of public health the inescapable numbers and percentages are never far away. He came to treasure everyday and to realize what was important in life even those funky ‘red shoes’.

    Adios, Dr Donnelly

  11. Dr. Donnelly is a great inspiration to me in terms of his professional achievements, his kindness to others, his courage in the face of his illness, and his faith. I thank God that I had the opportunity to learn from him.

  12. K. C. was one of my best friends. He was in the circle of friends that remain dear to me from my childhood. We met in 9/65 as ninth graders and never stopped being best friends. He is my Aggie hero and nothing can replace him, but I will cherish the love that he had in his heart. His love will be in my heart forever, even in eternity. I love you, Kirb.

  13. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Donnelly family at this time. He was a wonderful man whom I had the pleasure of working with. He will be missed but live on in our memories.

  14. Dear Dr. Donnelly,

    I am really condoling you from the bottom of my heart. I never forget your teaching me in the class and giving me a recommendation letter, etc. I believe all your dedicated work will be rewarded to you and your family from the heaven. I pray for your forever peace with a great comfort in the heaven.

  15. Dear Robin, Nathan and Noah,
    I am sure you know how KC’s colleagues at TAMU and in the scientific community beyond felt about him and how he felt about his family. This guestbook will soon be filled with an outpouring of our love, reflective of his own. I was fortunate in so many ways to have been his colleague for nearly 20 years, traveling the world together and sharing so many wonderful times. During these visits KC kept his smile and honored our hosts even when the circumstances were far from easy. I will remember these times fondly forever, as I will his smile last Saturday when we shared our last visit together.
    We will miss him terribly. With love,
    Rick and Susanna

  16. I met K.C. several years ago on the soccer field, a truly amazing man. I have been richly blessed by having known him, he will be deeply missed. May God’s peace that surpasses all understanding be with you all at this time and always.

  17. After seeing Dr. Donnelly at SOT this spring it was difficult to reconcile that toxicology had lost one of its finest mentors. I am grateful and proud that he served on my doctoral committee. The world is a better place than he found it, to be sure.

  18. K.C. was an inspiration to us all at SRPH. He will be sorely missed. We offer you our sincerest condolences.

  19. I’ll miss KC’s enthusiasm and friendship. He always had his best foot forward. My prayers are with Robin and the family.

  20. Dr. Donnelly was a kind soul. I only knew him for a little while, but he made a immense impression on me.The world was a much better place with him in it. What a wonderful man. We should all look to be like him.

    God bless him, and may he rest in peace.

    John Goutier

  21. Our deepest condolences to Robin and his sons. It was a privilege to know K.C., a colleague who made our world a brighter and better place to live and who epitomized ‘a life well-lived.’

  22. K.C. was a dear friend to all of us at the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District’s Public Center for Environmental Health. We will remember him each day as we go about out work of linking health and environment.

  23. Our thoughts and prayers are with you, the family of KC. I have known KC for most of the time that I have been at Texas A-M and always enjoyed visiting with him and learning of his many adventures in various parts of the former Soviet Union. He leaves and great legacy and I am pleased to have known him. Best to all members of KC’s family. Fuller

  24. Dear Mrs. Donnelly,
    I want to express my sympathy to you and your family on your husband’s death. K.C. was a great scientist and a good colleague.
    Please accept my condolences.

  25. Robin and family,

    It is difficult for us to fully express our sentiments at this time with the passing of KC. He was an educator and scientist with a strong sense of love and kindness for the community, regardless of status and background.. He is the epitome of a public health leader and advocate for the common good. His warm smile and gentile demeanor veiled a determined compassion and profound purpose of giving. As a pioneer and pillar of the School of Rural Public Health, he will continue to guide us from afar in assuring that we reach out to people that need to be served. KC

  26. Robin and family,

    K.C. was an inspiration to me as a Designated Federal Official of the FIFRA Scientific Advisory Panel. The first time I met him In person was February 2008 at the Carbofuran Scientific Advisory Panel. I had spoken to him on the phone before that and had exchanged e-mails during the selection process for the SAP. Almost immediately, I knew he was special. He told me that he had cancer he was undergoing chemo. He asked whether that would be a problem in selecting him for the SAP. I told him that it wouldn’t be. I knew he was a fighter and he told me about how he had seen people far worse than him so he stopped feeling sorry for himself. He would always come to the SAP meetings with a smile and he would always do his homework and participate. He laughed. He knew that he had to live each day, one day at a time. I told him about my Mother, who died 14 years ago (at 57 years old) after her 5-year battle with chronic lymphocytic leukemia. He was an optimist and I wanted him to live. He would also ask whether it would be all right to miss a SAP meeting. He thought he might not be able to make the August 25-27, 2009 SAP meeting and he was worried as I had asked him to chair the meeting. I reassured him that his health was more important and that he should focus on getting better and being with his family. This is how it was in the middle of June when he told me that he had to go in for surgery to insert a port so that he could regain (he hoped) liver function and try more chemo. I thought for sure he would recover as he had every other time. I always expected the same for my Mother and she died. I was not able to be at her side. I am consoled that you and your family were able to be at K.C.’s side when he died. He was a person who had found love in his life and who loved life. He will be sorely missed. His memory and good deeds will last forever. I am dedicating the next FIFRA SAP meeting, August 25-27, 2009 that I will be management to K.C. I will always be grateful to have had him on the FIFRA SAP.

    May God give you and your family strength. For tears will flow, but eventually they will lessen and you will find comfort always in remembering his love.

    Most sincerely,

    Sharlene R. Matten, Ph.D.; Biologist, USEPA, Washington D.C.

  27. I met Dr. Donnelly for the first time in my undergrad and did a internship in his lab. The joy and dedication he felt in his work was my primary reason for studying Toxicology myself. I will always remember him as a good man who always had time to talk and a great mentor.

  28. Dr. Donnelly was such an inspiration. His willingness to help the students and his generosity will be remembered forever. We miss him greatly as a mentor, teacher and as a person who radiated love at all times.

  29. My deepest condolences, thoughts and prayers go out to Dr.Donnelly’s family. Dr. Donnelly was my professor at SRPH. I owe a lot to him…his kindness and encouragement has helped me countless times. He will truly be missed.

  30. Dear Donnelly family,
    I am so saddened to hear of KC’s passing. My heart goes out to you and your friends and family. You are all in my thoughts and prayers.

    KC was a graduate advisor of mine and such a wonderful mentor. He had great expectations for all of his students and was really an inspiration to us all. We were all so blessed to have him as an advisor and mentor. Not only was he a great professional advisor, he was also a friend. I can think of many proud husband and father stories he told through the years. He was so proud of his family.

    I will miss him greatly and I am so sorry for your loss.
    Nancy Holmes

  31. Robin and sons,

    My heart goes out to you. I want to share with you the message I sent to our dive team and to others here in Seattle that knew and worked with KC.

    Dear fellow divers and others who knew KC,

    Many of you have been out on the Duwamish, Lake Union, and Eagle Harbor where we have provided support over the years to the Superfund Basic Research Program. Specifically, we assisted Texas A-M who were one of the few centers for this type of research nationwide.

    KC Donnelly was the professor who spearheaded the work. You probably remember him in the field, rolling with the inevitable field-related changes, always appreciative of our support, always ready for a laugh, and always gently steering his grad students – you may remember Gary, Annika, and now Matt.

    After many years of interaction, KC was so interested in seeing the research be relevant that he forged a strong bond with us. He wanted his students exposed to the EPA side of things. In 2004, things were made more formal, and I was privileged to be appointed Adjunct Assistant Professor in the School of Rural Public Health. That has allowed me to participate on students’ PhD committees and work even closer with KC and his vision on relevant, cutting edge research.

    KC passed away Wednesday night, July 1, after a year-long fight with cancer. My last email from him in early June was a gentle reminder to check with our colleague at Southern California Coastal Waterways Research Program to make sure we could get the SPMEs done again this year in case funding for fish studes fell through.

    I have attached an article on his passing.

    Matt will be coming up and we will pick up the slack, but there will be a big hole without KC in the field with us. Sometimes I think by middle age that I have seen all those I would learn from already. Then someone like KC comes along, someone who puts people first, who shares a passion for science and has the ability to connect. You can tell that I truly feel I found someone new to emulate. While he was on chemo, I sent him the only medicine I could – the complete works of Monty Python.

    I will miss him this summer, but we will be implementing his vision on the Duwamish. Watch and see how this all plays out over the next few years. Our dive team has the privilege to be a significant player in this work.

  32. Dear Robin and children,
    Our deepest condolences for your loss. KC was an amazing person and we will miss him a lot here in South Texas. His work in the colonias will not be lost and many people are better due to his studies and preventive measures he passed along. He was an excellent person with a good heart and a great willingness to help people. God will give you the strength to help you during this time.

  33. Robin, Nathan, Noah and family,

    It is with great sadness that I heard the news. KC was an incredible man, husband, father, mentor and friend. He’s touched us all and given many treasures that will forever be cherished.

    I’ll always remember his smile, enthusiasm and deep hearted laugh that we heard so many times.


    Karl, Kim, and Kaden

  34. A truly fine individual, whose presence will be missed not only on the campus of TAMU but also the Bryan-College Station area in general. Just an outstanding human being and we will all miss him.

  35. Dr. Donnelly (KC) will always be an inspiration for all who knew him! His work will continue by those whom he trained.

  36. Robin, Noah and Nathan, KC meant so much to me for many years and I will cherish the time I got to spend out at your place in Kurten. He was such a great guy. Did you know he gave me his Corp boots and I wore them proudly for a long time? He was my favorite Aggie, I will never forget him.

  37. I am thankful we had the honor of having KC (and Robin), as our soccer coach.
    Your family was an inspiration for us and many other soccer families.
    I am sorry for your loss….

  38. For nearly 12 years, Dr. KC Donnelly helped educate some of the brightest young health professional students in the area of toxicology, pesticide exposure and risk assessment. As an integral part of the South Texas Environmental Education and Research (STEER) program, KC helped bridge the gap between public health and medicine for over 500 students from distinguished health professions training programs around the State and the nation. As a true pacesetter for environmental research on the U.S. / Mexico border, KC always stressed the importance of service coupled with learning and community-based research as he worked to improve the lives of colonia residents in South Texas.
    Those of us who had the distinct pleasure of working with KC will forever be in his debt. For the fortunate students who had the privilege of learning from this tremendous individual who routinely turned challenges into educational opportunities, you could not have had a better teacher. And for the many lives he touched through his research and dedication to science, we can all say

  39. Dear Robin and family,

    I am so sorry to hear about Dr. Donnelly’s passing. He was such a great person and it is seen in all the wonderful statements from friends. I have only known Dr.Donnelly for 7 years and he was always pleasant and smiling, Never was a question a bad question, he always gave you the time. He will be truely missed by so many people. God Bless you and your family!

  40. Dr. KC will be missed he was a great professor that inspired many of our STEER students.

    As a friend he always made time out of his busy teaching day in Laredo to speak with me and catch up.

    He will always live on in our hearts!

    With deepest sympathies,

    Beatriz and Ulises

  41. KC Donnelly was a great teacher and mentor to many students at SRPH and TAMU, including myself. We will miss him tremendously. Thoughts and prayers to his family and friends.

  42. Robin, Nathan, and Noah,

    I had the privaledge of working with KC for many years. He was on both my masters and Ph.D committee and I worked on an independent consutling project with him as well. I will always remember his teachings and pass those along to my own students. He will be dearly missed. Our prayers are with you in this difficult time. -The Bruce Family

  43. Dear Donnelly family,

    I was sad to hear about the passing of Dr. Donnelly. I was one of his students from 1995-2001. I took several courses with him and he was in my dissertation committee. I always remember his as a kind and even temper gentleman and I always will remember him with respect and admiration. I personally think that the community and university lost a great man.

    Hope you find peace in his memory.

    My deepest condolences,
    Emely Castro Rivera

  44. I write this e-mail with a heavy heart. More than a decade ago, the first time I met Dr. Donnelly he was the Principal Investigator of a project ATSDR had funded and I was the project officer. He introduced himself, my name is K.C. Donnelly and you can call me ‘KC’, We instantly became friends. He was a down to earth person, a good friend, and a great human being. For over 15 years we worked very closely, I found him to be a very responsible individual who would meet all my needs as project officer in a timely fashion be it writing abstracts, providing revised budgets, yearly project reports not to say writing and publishing research findings together.

    The last time I met him , he made it a point to stop by my poster at SOT in March 2009 in Baltimore. He talked about research we can collaborate in the future. He was so upbeat about life and talked about writing grants and getting back into swing of things. He had lost quite a bit of weight but he said that was part of side effects but the real thing is gone. I was so pleased to hear this good news, because I was myself sad regarding my mother’s ill-health at the time, she died within weeks. KC comforted me and asked me to be patient if the ultimate happens.

    My thoughts are with his family particularly his wife, Robin, who I met on one of my site visits to College Station. Indeed, I will miss a great Texan friend !!!

  45. I was saddened by the news that Dr. Donnelly has left us. It’s all so soon… I even met him recently at the last SOT meeting. Dr. Donnelly was a great mentor, a nice friend, and a kind person. He will be dearly missed by all of us former students of him.

  46. With sincerest condolences for a dedicated leader and colleague in the field of environmental health.

  47. Our hearts go out to your family in the time of sadness. You will all be in our prayers.

    Gig’em and God Bless,
    Mike Bell Class of 73′

  48. I am truly sorry that KC has left us so soon. I met him at TAMU while I was in graduate school. I took 2 of his classes and he was on my graduate committee. He was an excellent teacher and mentor. I appreciated all of the help he gave me over the years.

    I was praying for him while he was sick, and I will continue to pray for comfort and peace for the family.

  49. Robin,
    Please accept my warmest regards and condolences for your loss of KC.

    KC and I were fish roommates in Squadron Six. All should note that KC came to Texas A-M to be in the Corps and his desire was to be in the Cadet singing group or Fish Drill Team. Well, he tryed out for the Fish Drill Team, was accepted, and never looked back. He used to come into the ‘hole’ at night, dog tired and soaked in sweat from drill practice, so tired I had to help him take off his combat boots. His determination to succeed was inspirational to me. I don’t think I would have ever made it thru the Corps Fish year without KC Donnelly.

    God Bless.

    By the way, the Texas A-M Fish Drill Team were the National Champions that year.

  50. Robin and family-I only knew KC for a short time while we served together on the EPA Scientific Advisory Panel, but he was easy to get to know–so friendly and so insightful. It was a real privilege getting to work with KC and I will very much miss being able to benefit from his wisdom and his friendship.

  51. My deepest sympathies to the Donnelly family. Dr. Donnelly was my professor and provided a Graduate Assistantship during my graduate career. There are no words to express the sadness I feel. Dr. Donnelly was an inspirational man who raised my awareness of other important environmental public health issues; he left an impression on my life, as he did with every student who had the pleasure of knowing him. Please know that your husband, father, grandfather and friend was an amazing educator. Your family is in my prayers.

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