Former Foundation Board Chair and Physical Therapy Pioneer Dies at 96

James B. McKillip, PT, FAPTA, was the third Chairman of the Board of Trustees and a longtime supporter of the Foundation for Physical Therapy Research.

It is with profound sadness that we share the passing of James B. “Jim” McKillip, PT, FAPTA, at the age of 96. Jim served as an active Board member for 10 years, holding the leadership position of Chairman of the Board of Trustees from 1990-1993. He was the third chair in Foundation history.

Jim was elected Chairman of the Board in 1990 and served until 1993. During his term as Chairman of the Board, the Foundation awarded one of the largest grants in our history to The University of Iowa, which received a $600,000, three-year grant, establishing the first clinical research center dedicated to the study of physical therapy.

“Jim was instrumental in the growth of the Foundation for Physical Therapy Research during the early years. He remained steadfast in his support of physical therapy research throughout his lifetime,” said Foundation Board of Trustee President, Paul Rockar, Jr, PT, DPT, MS, FAPTA. “Jim’s deep commitment to the profession was a source of inspiration and the impact of his leadership was felt by peers and colleagues, and by the many patients who benefited from the advances to physical therapy research and interventions he championed.”

Jim spent his career promoting the critical importance of physical therapy and pioneering systemic improvements to the physical therapy profession like fee schedules and provider networks, reflecting his commitment to pairing physical therapist practice with sound accounting principles.

Jim received a B.A. in physical therapy from Stanford University in 1950 and was a lifelong member of APTA. He was a founder and vice-chairman of what was then known as the APTA Self-Employed Section, later to become the Private Practice Section. Jim shared his expertise widely through many roles with APTA national and APTA California chapter levels. He continues to be recognized through the state chapter’s James B. McKillip Leadership Award.

For his impact on the physical therapy profession and the Foundation’s mission and growth, the Foundation honored Jim by awarding him the Magistro Distinguished Service Award in 1994 and the Spirit of Philanthropy Award in 2010.

Both Jim and his late wife, Ardis, were longstanding supporters of the Foundation. In 2007 they became Legacy Society members with a planned bequest to the Foundation’s Designation: Research Excellence Major Gifts Campaign that expanded the Foundation’s impact through the growth of existing endowments and the development of several new ones, ensuring his vision for the future of physical therapy endures.

If you would like to make a gift to honor Jim’s memory, you may do so on our website. A card will be sent to the McKillip family informing them of your contribution.


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