“Everybody knows he was a great doctor, but he was also a great father and husband and a great man of faith,” Susan Melancon said this week about her husband Keith. “If anything, I hope that people can take comfort that he’s definitely in heaven and we should all be a little bit jealous that he’s there.”
Dr. Keith Melancon – a Hahnville native, Des Allemands resident and former Louisiana State University football lineman – passed away Sept. 28.
He was 56.
Keith and Susan were married for 24 years, and she said he was the kind of man who would give the shirt off of his back to a stranger.
“He was just an awesome man,” she said. “I don’t know how else to describe him.”
Keith battled brain cancer for 13 years, and Susan said even when the diagnosis meant he couldn’t perform surgery anymore, Keith still loved and drew strength from his job.
“Even with my bias aside, he was one of the best doctors I’ve ever known,” she said. “He was also an avid outdoors man. He loved to be outdoors and fishing and being on the family’s hunting property. He was a good steward of the earth.”
Father Anthony Odiong of St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church in Luling spoke at Keith’s funeral.
“I have dreaded this day for a long time … I have tried to pray it away,” he said. “It hit me like a bolt of thunder … it was almost difficult for me to imagine a world without Keith … he applied himself generously to fulfilling the reason for which he was created … he gave life everything he had, and his patients were like his own family. I’ve never seen a man so devoted to his work and to his people.”
Anthony spoke of Keith’s generosity, many charitable acts and great faith during the service.
Employees of Southern Bone and Joint Specialists took to Facebook last week to honor Keith’s life.
“He had the gift of making anyone he was talking to feel like they were the most important person in the world … he was the life of the party,” the business’ post expressed. “The physicians and staff of Southern Bone and Joint Specialists, P.A. have broken hearts … our great physician met The Great Physician.”
Melancon received his bachelor’s and medical degrees from LSU before completing orthopedic residency training at the University of Mississippi Medical Center. He was one of four physicians who pioneered Mississippi’s first comprehensive musculoskeletal center – Southern Bone and Joint Specialists. That center is now the largest private orthopaedic group in Mississippi.
“Dr. Melancon was a visionary and had a keen business mind as well as being an excellent orthopaedic surgeon,” the post said. “His patients loved him and gave him vegetables, jelly, cakes and even a rooster. He would see someone limping at the local hardware store, and he’d tell the person to come see him even if they couldn’t pay.”
Melancon was a department of orthopaedics assistant professor at LSU Medical School in New Orleans and served as chief medical officer for LSU Healthcare Network. He was included in Louisiana’s Top Doctors in 2012 and 2013, named Clinical Instructor of the Year 2012 by the LSU Department of Family Medicine and received a place in Top 40 Under 40 Mississippi Business Journal in 2003.
He was a past president of the Mississippi Orthopedic Society and a member of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, American Orthopedic Foot and Ankle Society, American Association for Hand Surgery and Medical Group Management Association.
Melancon is survived by his wife Susan; children Drew, Dalton, Ayme and Zachary; mother Jackie Melancon; sisters, Julie Falla and Dawn Theriot; brothers Dr. Eric Melancon and David Melancon and several nieces and nephews.
Editors note: In a previous version of this story, it was incorrectly reported that Melancon fought a 20 year, not 13, battle with cancer. We regret the error and have updated the story.