Peter St. John Dignan
Peter St. John Dignan

June 21, 1928 - April 30, 2016
Born in Auckland, New Zealand
Resided in Cincinnati, OH


Peter St. John Dignan, M.B., Ch.B., passed away on Saturday April 30, 2016 at 87 years of age from complications following abdominal surgery. He leaves behind his wife Patricia (nee Barr), children Andrew, Alison (Mark Kissling), Neil and Elizabeth (Betsy) and his two granddaughters Alexandra and Madeleine Kissling.
Peter graduated from Auckland University in New Zealand and earned his M.B., Ch.B. from the University of Otago, New Zealand. In 1959 he married Patricia (nee Barr) and then moved to Sydney, Australia to complete his Pediatric Residency at the Royal Alexandra Hospital. In 1962 he accepted a one-year position to serve as the Assistant Director of the Outpatient Department of Cincinnati Children's with the intention of going to England the following year. He loved the job and the generous community of Cincinnati so much, the family never went on to England.
In 1965 Peter became the Assistant Director of what is now the Division of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics. It was there that he forged a lifelong friendship with director Dr. Jack Rubinstein. In 1972 he collaborated with the renowned teratologist, Dr. Josef Warkany, his mentor and friend, in establishing the Human Genetics Division, of which he was Director for 22 years. Peter was also a professor at the University of Cincinnati, College of Medicine. He was an active member of the Human Research Subjects Protection Committee (Institutional Review Board) for more than two decades, frequently serving as Vice-Chairman along with another lifelong friend, Dr. Irwin Light. He also served as a board member of various groups that served children with disabilities including the Down Syndrome Association of Cincinnati, what is now the Board of Hamilton County Developmental Disabilities Services and the March of Dimes.
Peter received several awards during his career. He was the first physician to receive the Edwards Award that honored "outstanding employees of CHMC for job performance exemplifying CHMC's mission and values." In 1987 he won the Golden Apple Award, given by the senior class of the UC College of Medicine in recognition of the most outstanding teacher during the clinical years. In 1992 he was honored with the Founder's Award by the Cincinnati Pediatrics Society for "accomplished exemplary results in basic or clinical research demonstrating distinguished contributions to the health and welfare of the children in our community."
In his over 32 years at Cincinnati Children's and the 53 years of living in Cincinnati he made many dear friends. According to several colleagues, walking the hallways of the hospital could take a while with Peter because he seemed to know everyone from the environmental services staff to the head of the hospital and would stop to chat, catching up on their lives. He was truly a friend to everyone that he met. "The Children's Hospital Medical Center has lost an exceptional physician, an inspiring teacher, and a gentleman," according to Dr. Irwin Light.
In his personal life, and especially after his retirement, Peter found two hobbies: being a wonderful grandfather to his two grandchildren Alexandra and Madeleine, and painting. His granddaughters really got the best of what he had to offer. He developed his love of watercolor painting while taking classes with encouragement from his wife Paddy, first at the Cincinnati Art Academy and then the Essex Studios, under the tutelage of artist, Ken Landon Buck.
Peter also leaves behind dear family and friends in Cincinnati, St. Louis, throughout the United States, New Zealand, Australia and Canada.
A mass will be held at 11am on Tuesday, June 21, 2016 at Bellarmine Chapel on the campus of Xavier University. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be a made to the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County or a charity of one's choosing.




Bellarmine Chapel
3801 Ledgewood
Cincinnati, OH US 45207
Tuesday, June 21, 2016
11:00 AM