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Eric Walter Fonkalsrud


1932 - 2017 Obituary Condolences
Eric Walter Fonkalsrud Obituary
1932 - 2017 With heavy hearts the family of Dr. Eric Walter Fonkalsrud, of Santa Monica, CA, announces his passing on Thursday, April 6, 2017, from natural causes. He was 84 years old. A dedicated husband, father, grandfather and doctor who saved thousands of patients' lives, he touched all of us in many profound ways. Born in Baltimore, Maryland, to George Fonkalsrud and Ella Fricke he spent his childhood years in Tennessee and Seattle, Washington. He studied medicine at the University of Washington where he also skied on the University team and rowed on the renowned UW rowing team, which twice earned a national championship. He attended Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and completed a General Surgery internship and a year of residency at Johns Hopkins Hospital. Dr. Fonkalsrud completed his residency in General and Cardiothoracic Surgery at the UCLA School of Medicine. Following a fellowship in Pediatric Surgery at the Columbus Children's Hospital, he joined the full-time faculty in the Department of Surgery at the UCLA Medical Center and was appointed the first Chief of Pediatric Surgery in 1965. He retired in this role in 2000 and continued his medical practice until 2008. During his 36 year tenure as chief of Pediatric Surgery Dr. Fonkalsrud developed active clinical and research programs in many areas relating to infants and children. He was among the pioneers in the development of the ileoanal pouch procedure for patients with ulcerative colitis and carried out many physiological studies following this extensive operation. His group performed this operation on more than 150 children and 600 adults, one of the country's largest clinical experiences with this operation. Dr. Fonkalsrud initiated human liver transplantation at UCLA in the mid 1960's, and is a world authority on the management of congenital chest wall deformities, gastro- esophageal reflux disease, and neonatal surgery. He performed more than 15,000 operations, including almost 1,000 cardiac procedures. Dr. Fonkalsrud was also a volunteer surgeon at the Venice Family Clinic. An enthusiastic and dedicated educator and mentor, Dr. Fonkalsrud was a role model for future generations of surgeons. Many of Dr. Fonkalsrud's protégées and trainees have advanced to distinguished and illustrious careers in medicine. In addition, Dr. Fonkalsrud authored 463 publications in scientific journals, 124 book chapters, and 7 books. Throughout his career Dr. Fonkalsrud served on the editorial boards of 15 major surgical journals, and was president of 9 National, Regional, and International surgical societies. He was the recipient of many academic and achievement awards throughout his esteemed career. Dr. Fonkalsrud was an avid athlete, particularly passionate about skiing, hiking and competing in triathlons and ocean swims. An Eagle Scout, he was an active participant in Troop 2 of Santa Monica where he led the Father's Committee and where his three sons also achieved the rank of Eagle. He had a love of nature and spent many hours on his forest land in the state of Washington. An enthusiastic traveler, Dr. Fonkalsrud had friends and worked with colleagues all over the world. He was a great supporter of the UCLA Bruins and UW sports teams and loved going to their games. Dr. Fonkalsrud was also a dedicated and active member of the Westwood United Methodist Church in Los Angeles. He is survived by his loving wife of 58 years, Peggy Fonkalsrud, his four children Eric Jr., Lynn, David and Robb, and his six grandchildren. His gentle nature and loving kindness will be greatly missed. A memorial for Dr. Fonkalsrud will be held at the Westwood United Methodist Church on May 13, 2017, at 2:00pm, followed by a reception at the church. He will be interred at the Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery. Dr Fonkalsrud spent his entire professional career at UCLA and loved the people he worked with and the support he received. His desire was to leave a lasting legacy at the institution he cared so much about. In lieu of flowers, gifts may be made to the Eric W. Fonkalsrud, M.D. Endowed Chair in Pediatric Surgery at UCLA. Please visit http://surgery.ucla.edu/fonkalsrud for more information. This will honor his legacy in pediatric surgical excellence by helping UCLA to recruit and retain the best minds in pediatric surgery to support teaching, research and service for decades to come.
Published in the Los Angeles Times from Apr. 15 to Apr. 16, 2017
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