In Memorium

I am sad to pass on news of the Passing of Dr. Frank William Blaisdell on April 18, 2020. Dr. Blaisdell had roots in many of our Bay Area Institutions, including Stanford University, the San Francisco VA, UC San Francisco, San Francisco General, and UC Davis. Almost every member had the honor to be connected to him as a friend, colleague, and/or mentor. We all saw him as a giant in surgery. He served as Vic-President of the Society in 1973.

Below is the official Obituary shared with us by his daughter, Molly.

-Marc Melcher, President

Obituary

Frank William Blaisdell died of a stroke on April 18, 2020, at his home in San Francisco. The renowned vascular and trauma surgeon, after whom the medical library at U.C. Davis was named, was born on August 30, 1927, in Santa Barbara, California. “Bill” was the eldest of three children. His parents were Stanford graduates; his mother, a political activist, had been a chemistry teacher; his father was an obstetrician and radiologist as well as the author of several magic books. When Bill was five, the family moved to Watsonville in the Pajaro Valley. After graduating from high school, he attended Stanford University, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree. While attending Stanford’s medical school in San Francisco, he married Marilyn Janeck, a recent Stanford graduate who was teaching junior high, in December of 1950. During an internship in Philadelphia, he and Marilyn had the first of their six children. In the midst of his medical residency, he served two years in the U.S. Navy in the Korean War as a medical officer. With three children in tow, he took a year residency with Dr. Francis Moore in Boston and after his residency a year’s fellowship with Dr. Michael DeBakey in Houston. He was chief of surgery at San Francisco’s Veterans Administration Hospital from 1960 to 1966 before, as a father of six, moving to UCSF and San Francisco General Hospital, where he was also chief of surgery and became San Francisco’s chief of Emergency Services. He coordinated the city’s ambulance service and was always proud of the trauma center he created at SFGH, one of the first in the country. In 1978 he moved to Sacramento to chair the department of surgery at U.C. Davis. In parallel with his work as a surgeon, he had a prominent research career. He published more than 186 papers and 135 book chapters; his series of textbooks on trauma, co-edited with Donald Trunkey and others, were standard works for many years. When he retired from his chairship at UCD in 1995, he took on work as chief of surgery for the Northern California Veterans Administration Health Care System. In 2001, he moved full-time back to San Francisco. He continued to teach and consult.

Well known for his energy, wit and activity, he was also fun-loving and enthusiastically par-took of his hobbies, which over the decades, included magic, model airplanes, slot-car racing, and tennis with his equally energetic wife. In his complete retirement, he wrote mystery novels based on characters invented by his father. His favorite place was a rustic family cabin at Fallen Leaf Lake, near South Lake Tahoe, where he could swim, hike and conduct various home-im-provement projects. Widowed in 2016, he leaves behind his six beloved children (Sally, Sue, Rich, Carol, Bob and Molly), fourteen grandchildren and five great-grandchildren, sons- and daughters-in-law, his admired sister Mary, many fond nieces and nephews and devoted friends and colleagues.

3 thoughts on “In Memorium

  1. Jerry Goldstone

    Bill was a valued teacher, mentor then colleague and ultimately friend for whom I had unmeasurable admiration, affection and gratitude. There was no other like him and it’s not likely there ever will be. Although it was painful to watch him decline physically over the past two years it was reassuring to see that his mind remained sharp as he wrote novel after novel.

  2. As was the case with all surgery residents who had the good fortune to fall under his influence, Dr. Blaisdell (Blazer) had a major, the most, impact on my surgical career. Even when he called me “Hambone,” I was glad to be in his presence in the OR.

    The Trauma Service at SFGH, from intern to Chief Resident, was the crucible in which my surgical skills and commitment to the craft and my patients were formed. I was lucky to have timed my birth in such a way to have been there when he was.

  3. I’M SO GLAD JOYCE AND MY SON, IAN, TOOK BILL TO LUNCH AT THE CLIFF HOUSE NEAR HIS CONDO TWO SUMMERS AGO WHEN WE WERE IN THE BAY AREA. . I WAS ABLE TO TELL HIM PERSONALLY HOW MUCH HIS TRAINING AND MENTOR SHIP MEANT TO ME. HE WAS 90 YO THEN AND WE OCCASIONALLY EXCHANGED EMAILS. HIS MIND WAS SHARP AS EVER TO THE END. I WAS AMAZED AT HOW MANY SFGH STORIES HE REMEMBERED LIKE YESTERDAY, WAY BACK IN 1969 WHEN I WAS CHIEF RESIDENT .HE AND MARILYN HAD US OVER FOR CHRISTMAS DINNER AND I PLAYED WITH HIS YOUNG SON AND HIS TRAINS DOWNSTAIRS. BILL RECALLED IT, MAYBE HIS SON WILL ALSO.
    WE MOURN THE LOST OF A GREAT SURGEON AND A GOOD FRIEND FOR OVER 50 YEARS,

    WE LOST A GOOD FRIEND AND A GREAT SURGEON.

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