Deborah McGregor

Deborah Elizabeth McGregor (Kuhn)

Saturday, March 14th, 2020
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Deborah Kuhn McGregor, died Saturday, March 14, 2020 of complications from Parkinson's Disease.

Born in South Hadley, Massachusetts in 1944, the fourth child of Manfred and Agnes (Reagan) Kuhn, Deborah grew up in Iowa City, Iowa, where her father served as chair of the University of Iowa's Sociology Department. She was, by her own description, a "faculty brat." Leaving home in 1962, she attended the University of Wisconsin at Madison, achieving a Bachelor's and a Master's Degree in History by 1968, beginning work on a Doctorate. Politically active during the period, she participated in Freedom Summer, working to register black citizens to vote in North Carolina, where she was shot at by the Ku Klux Klan.

Prior to achieving her M.A. she married fellow Master's student Peter Meyersohn, who took a teaching job in Mankato, Minnesota. Suffering through a horrific hospital episode, she gave birth to daughter Molly in 1969, afterwards swearing she would never give birth in a hospital again. Trapped in the role of suburban housewife, she left her husband five months later to live with her daughter in a counter-culture community. Eventually the group migrated west, exploring life in cities of the Pacific Northwest before settling into a commune in Montana. Tragedy stalked her; she suffered the loss of a four month old son, Sparrow, to crib death, lost custody of her daughter. in 1976, she married Richard Kogan, gave birth at home in Missoula, Montana to two children, Leaf and Blueberry. After several experiments aimed at earning a living, she began taking classes at Washington State University, intent once more on gaining her Ph.D. Richard Kogan died abruptly in 1979, leaving her a widow with two young children and no support. Determined to take control of her life, she applied to the Women's History Ph.D. Program at SUNY Binghamton, where she could explore the issues central to her own life; the history of women and childbirth.

Moving across country to Binghamton, New York in 1980, she was welcomed, treated with great resepct as a graduate of the University of Wisconsin. Her doctoral research centered on the "father of gynecology," J. Marion Sims, a Southern physician who experimented on slave women. In 1982 she entered into a whirlwind courtship with fellow graduate student Robert McGregor, marrying that October. McGregor adopted her two younger children. In 1984 she gave birth to a son, Bran, again a home birth with lay midwives. She achieved her Ph.D. in 1985, in the nick of time to accept a one-year teaching position at the University of Utah. The year following , she and her family moved to Chatham, Illinois, where her husband took up a tenure-track position at what became the University of Illinois-Springfield. Working part time at this institution and at the Southern Illinois School of Medicine, Deborah marked time before gaining her own tenure-track position at UIS beginning in 1990. There she taught Women's History, the History of Medicine, Nineteenth Century American History, and methods courses in Public History. Tenured in 1996, she won promotion to Associate Professor and ultimately Full Professor, crowning a career of superlative academic achievement. Her research bore fruit in the 1998 publication of From Midwives to Medicine: The Birth of American Gynecology, a highly influential study of ethical questions surrounding the origins of the medical practice, reflecting her ongoing commitment to feminism and a humanistic outlook. Much loved and respected by her students, Deborah retired from teaching in 2010, moving to upstate New York upon the retirement of her husband two years later. There she continued academic research while devoting considerable time to her favored hobbies, knitting and sewing.

Her own medical history proved unfortunate. Diagnosed with Hepatitis C in 2001, she survived a living donor transplant, the organ provided by her youngest son. She suffered a number of minor maladies through the ensuing years before learning in 2014 she suffered from Parkinson's Disease.

Deborah is survived by a sister, Linda Skinner (Spokane Valley, Washington), a brother, Gilbert Kuhn (Richmond, Indiana), husband, Robert (Corning, New York), daughter, Molly Meyersohn (Newton, Massachusetts, daughters: Maya, Rachel and Jaala), son, Leaf Dilts McGregor (Minneapolis, Minnesota, spouse Kelsey, sons: Rowan and Jasper), daughter, Blueberry Morningsnow (Ames, Iowa, son, Finn), step-daughter, Janna McGregor (San Francisco, California), and son, Bran McGregor (Corning, New York). Looking back on her life, she found her greatest satisfaction in the success of her historical research, the fortunes of her children (and all whom pursued different paths), and the shared joy of her marriage to Robert.

There will be no service; Deborah avoided funerals. Those wishing to honor her memory may do so by donating to the National Women's Health Network, 1413 K Street, NW, Suite 400, Washington DC 20005-3459. Anyone desiring to contact Robert McGregor should email

Phillips Funeral Home & Cremation Service, 17 W. Pulteney St., Corning has been entrusted with the arrangements.
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Mike Lemke

Posted at 07:55am
I was very sorry to learn of Deborah's passing. My condolences.
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Posted at 06:31pm
In loving memory of Deb. Thinking of you all with love and sympathy.
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A memorial tree was planted in the memory of Deborah McGregor — Plant a Tree Now

Ryan Bowers

Posted at 08:57am
To the McGregor family, I wanted to express my deepest condolences over the recent loss of Deborah.
I was once very close friends with Bran. Please extend my condolences to him and his siblings as well.
Bran and I lived together as roommates for a time in Edwardsville while we both worked and attended college at SIUE. I always enjoyed Brans company and his generous spirit. He always had a positive attitude towards everything in life which I admired greatly. I think back fondly on the times we spent together and I hope that he is doing well despite the sad news at hand.
It cannot be easy to lose a spouse, mother, grandmother and my heartfelt sympathy goes out to you and your family during this difficult time.
Ryan Bowers

Elizabeth Kosmetatou

Posted at 01:57am
I was very saddened to learn of Debbie's passing. She was a wonderful colleague, a fighter for what was right, a great scholar and teacher, and personified grace and kindness. Sending comforting thoughts and hugs to Bob, their children, and the rest of her family, in whose lives she brought so much love. - Elizabeth Kosmetatou

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