Gainesville - Dr. Rodrigo Quintana, long time resident of Gainesville, FL, died at home on Tuesday, December 3rd. He was 81. Dr. Quintana was born in Léon, Nicaragua, on August 2, 1932, to Julio Cesar Quintana Villanueva and Felícitas Blandón Herrera who baptized him as Angel Sergio Blandón Herrera. Dr. Quintana was raised by his mother, his grandmother, Juana Vicenta Villanueva, and two aunts, Yoya and Chepita. He left Léon for Mexico City in 1950 to study medicine and received his medical degree from the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) in 1958 at the top of his class. Dr. Quintana arrived in Gainesville, Florida, by bus on Thanksgiving Day 1962, having accepted a research fellowship in experimental surgery at the University of Florida's J. Hillis Miller Health Center. He was joined by his immediate family the following year when his beloved mentor, Dr. Lester R. Dragstedt, extended his research fellowship for a second year. Dr. Quintana then went on to a residencies in general surgery (1964 - 1966) and thoracic and cardiovascular surgery (1967 - 1969). He was among the first international medical fellows and residents to achieve his level of specialization at the University of Florida's Shands Teaching Hospital. Dr. Quintana established his private practice in 1971 and was one of the first to perform open heart surgery at the North Florida Regional and Alachua General hospitals. He closed his private practice in 1997, but continued to work as a physician until the day before he died, ever passionate about his chosen profession and his desire to help others.

Dr. Quintana possessed a brilliant and curious mind. He attributed his love of the written language to his grandmother, Juana Vicenta, who gave him his first dictionary at the age of six. Dr. Quintana read it daily for a number of years and, as a teenager, went on to teach himself to swim with the aid of a swimming manual. His mother, Felícitas, sent him to a private elementary school, further cementing his lifelong love of learning. An avid reader and listener of classical music, Dr. Quintana amassed an extensive collection of books, movies, and musical recordings over his lifetime. His children and grandchildren can attest to his other favorite pastime - reminiscing in extraordinary detail about his childhood in Nicaragua, his complex family history, his time in Mexico, and his profession, always under the guise of imparting the family's heritage. Rarely did he tell a story without a humorous twist to it.

Dr. Quintana is survived by nine children: Felícitas Rebeca Quintana, of Atlanta, GA, María Elena Quintana, of Gainesville, Julio Rodrigo Quintana (Kim Shuffler), of Marietta, GA, Sergio José Quintana (Dari Smith), of Gainesville, Regina Quintana Houck (Jeorg) of Broomfield, CO, Roberto Quintana (Ann Munsee) of Sacramento, CA, Ricardo Quintana (Kelly) of Gainesville, Rachel Elizabeth Quintana, of Gainesville, Sara Fesmire Quintana, also of Gainesville, and 14 grandchildren who loved their grandpa immensely.

Burial will be private.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests any donations in Dr. Quintana's memory be made to the World Wildlife Fund, the Prairie Creek Conservation Cemetery (PCCC), or the .

Arrangements are under the care of MILAM FUNERAL AND CREMATIONS SERVICES, 311 S Main St., Gainesville, FL 32601. 352-376-5361.

Funeral Home

Milam Funeral Home and Cremation Services, Inc. of Gainesville
311 South Main Street Gainesville, FL 32601-1803
(800) 433-5361

Published in Gainesville Sun from Dec. 6 to Dec. 7, 2013