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John Earle Connolly


1923 - 2016 Obituary Condolences
John Earle Connolly Obituary
May 21, 1923 - January 20, 2016 On January 20, Dr. John Earle Connolly died of natural causes at the age of 92, surrounded by his family in Newport Beach, California. As the founding chair of the Department of Surgery at the University of California Irvine (UCI), he was a beloved surgeon, professor, husband, and father. Born in Omaha, Nebraska in 1923 to Dr. Earle Connolly and Gertrude Connolly, he was inspired by his father, a surgeon, to pursue a career in medicine. He attended Harvard College (class of 1945) and Harvard Medical School (class of 1948). After completing his surgical residency at Stanford University, he took a position at the Professorial Unit of St. Bartholomew's Hospital in London. He then finished his training as chief resident at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center in the thoracic and cardiovascular surgery department. Returning to Stanford as an Assistant Professor of Surgery, he was honored as a Markle Scholar from 1957 to 1962. In 1965, Dr. Connolly was recruited to establish the Department of Surgery at UCI. During his 50 years there, he pioneered numerous techniques in the fields of cardiovascular, vascular and general surgery including the development of a mechanical pump for heart bypass surgery. He also performed the first combined kidney-pancreas transplant west of the Mississippi in 1969. In addition to his surgical contributions, he also published over 500 scientific papers and book chapters. In 1975, his former surgical residents created the The John E. Connolly Surgical Society with the purpose of fostering mentorship and camaraderie among his former surgical residents. Dr. Connolly remained at UCI as the last original faculty member, teaching in the classroom for nearly half a century. Dr. Connolly's career took him all over the world with innumerable distinctions and visiting professorships, including honorary fellowships in the Royal College of Surgeons England, Ireland, and Edinburgh, and honorary membership in the Japan Surgical Society. He was also the former President of the International Cardiovascular Society, a member of the James the Fourth Association of Surgeons, and Vice-Chairman of the Board of Regents for the American College of Surgeons. In addition to his devotion to the field of surgery and his family, he was an enthusiastic golfer and member of several clubs including: Cypress Point Golf Club, San Francisco Golf Club, Big Canyon Country Club, The Bohemian Club, The Pacific Union Club, and The Harvard Club. Dr. Connolly is survived by his wife of 49 years, Ginny and three children: Peter, John, and Sarah. He also leaves 5 grandchildren and his sister Patty Ryan.
Published in the Los Angeles Times on Jan. 30, 2016
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