by KAREN LAGRANGE COX
J. Brent Prather is a third-generation doctor who followed in his father’s, George, and grandfather’s, Benton, footsteps. Prather is a pediatric allergist in Lafayette, Louisiana.
Prather received his medical education from Tulane University, MD, 1977 and Louisiana State University New Orleans, Louisiana, and his Fellowship in Allergy and Immunology, 1979.
Prather set up his practice as a pediatrician and pediatric allergist in 1981 in the same building where his father’s practice was on Prudhomme Lane in front of Opelousas General Health System in Opelousas. In 1986, Prather and his father, George, moved to a new location on Highway 182 in Opelousas in a building they had built. The elder Prather stayed in the practice with his son until he retired.
In 1991, Prather and his wife, Patty, and their family moved to Lafayette. Prather set up a second location for his medical practice in Lafayette where he practices pediatric allergy. About three years ago, Prather sold his practice in Opelousas and has continued to practice pediatric allergy in Lafayette.
The elder Prather instilled acts of kindness in his son. He recalls going with his father on house calls when he was young. They went from one end of St. Landry Parish to the other; oftentimes, the patient’s parents could not pay for the elder Prather’s service. Prather realized this and asked his father why he wasn’t paid. The elder Prather told his son that it was alright; the parents would pay him if and when they could.
Following in his father’s footsteps, Prather has been involved in helping others and was recognized last year for his involvement in fundraising for the New Life Center by Bishop Douglas Deshotel of the Catholic Diocese of Lafayette. The Center was an emergency shelter and transitional housing for women and their children on East Landry Street in Opelousas. Prather and five others were recognized by Deshotels at the 2022 Pro-Life Rose Dinner on August 20, 2022; they all were recognized for their commitment, dedication, and work in protecting the dignity of human life.
Since the 1980s, Prather has been going to retreats in Grand Coteau. In 2016, he was trained in giving retreats, and in 2020 he became a retreat leader.
Being a polio survivor, Prather said swimming was a sport he could excel at since it required upper body strength, which he had. During high school and high school, he taught swimming lessons, with some of the children having cerebral palsy
Prather sings in the barbershop quarter known as the Fabulous Five or sometimes called the Five Still Alive. He also plays the guitar.
Although raised in Opelousas, Prather got his start in Florida upon his birth through his birth mother. Prather was adopted by George and Kathleen “Kitty” Halphen Prather. Prather was welcomed into his adoptive parents’ lives with his sisters Mellie and Pattie.
While growing up, Prather often thought of his birth mother and wanted to one day find her to thank her for giving him life and letting him be adopted. He was thankful for growing up with his nurturing and loving adoptive parents.
In 1984, Prather found his adoptive mother. They spoke on the phone and later met. He learned he has three younger maternal siblings. He and his birth mother had a relationship until her death. He learned his birth mother was allowed one request for her birth child for adoption; that Episcopalian parents adopt him. Luckily for him, his adoptive parents were Episcopalian at the time of his adoption; however, they later joined the Catholic Church.
After DNA testing became popular and Prather had done a DNA test, he was contacted by a paternal aunt. His birth father was deceased by that time; he learned about and met his paternal half-brother and half-sister. His birth paternal grandfather held a Ph.D. in Mathematics and was head of the Math Department at Rollins College in Winterpark, Florida. Prather then realized who he got his quick mathematical skills from.
After Patty tried to pursue Prather to retire so they could travel more and spend more time with their grandchildren, he reached a compromise with her. He now works half a day and has agreed to go on as many trips with her as she would like. And spend more time with their seven grandchildren. This compromise allows Prather to continue his practice to help his beloved patients.