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The cause of death was metastatic prostate cancer, according to his daughter, Susan Ylvisaker (Gordon). Dr. Ylvisaker brought a unique focus to the practice of medicine. Prior to entering medical school at the University of Minnesota, he spent three years at Concordia Lutheran Seminary in St. Louis. Many years later, he allowed that his theological training was of great benefit to him as a physician, giving him a deeper awareness of the need for compassion and understanding with his patients.

After finishing medical school in 1947 (where he played on the varsity tennis and basketball teams), Dr. Ylvisaker headed first to Swanville, MN, as a family practitioner. Later, in 1949, he moved to Detroit, where he held a series of internships in Radiology and General Surgery at Detroit Receiving, Herman Kiefer and Wayne County General Hospitals. His career was interrupted by the Korean War in 1951.

He served in Japan as a captain in the Air Force, working as a flight surgeon. His friends and family always joked that it was in Japan that his entrepreneurial skills were honed. While there, he ran a business importing American cars from California, for the use of fellow soldiers.

As he did in later years, he saw a need and met it. Although Dr. Ylvisaker maintained a busy surgery practice, (he was a staff physician at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital, William Beaumont Hospital and Pontiac General Hospital), he had many outside interests. One of these was real estate.

Over the years, he developed and operated numerous projects in both the Detroit area and the Upper Peninsula. His primary focus was in Pontiac, where he was an early advocate for much-needed redevelopment. Pontiac's leadership in the 1970s was tremendously fragmented, and as a consequence, very little redevelopment was occurring.

He believed, therefore, that change could only occur through the action of individual investors, committed to making a difference. He embarked on a series of projects, including the construction of several apartment complexes, a commercial storage facility, and later, a shopping center. When asked later why he focused heavily in Pontiac when there were perhaps better opportunities elsewhere, he replied simply "Because Pontiac needed me more." Whether in medicine or business, commitment and service were central to his life. In 1969, Dr. Ylvisaker was appointed by the Sisters of Mercy to the newly created position of Medical Director at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital, where he remained for 12 years. During this period of time, he also served as the treasurer of the Michigan State Medical Society (14 years) and upon his retirement in 1980 served for two years as its president.

He was dedicated to improving the quality of medicine and patient care, and under his leadership both the Medical Society and St. Joe's made many strides. He was also, from 1975 to 1995, an adjunct professor at Oakland University's School of Health Sciences.

After his "retirement" in 1980 from St. Joe's, Dr. Ylvisaker continued on with various real estate endeavors. He designed and built residential subdivisions in both the Clarkston area and on Lake Michigan in the Upper Peninsula.

At the age of 60, he traded an earlier passion for sailing the Great Lakes on a 28-foot cruising catamaran (single-handed) for that of flying. He became an avid pilot and flew his beloved single-engine Comanche around the world. On one trip, he rendezvoused in Sweden with King Carl Gustav XVI and Queen Silvia, to celebrate the 350th anniversary of Swedish immigration to America.

His flying days ended abruptly, when, at the age of 85, he was forced to make a crash landing. The plane was totaled but he walked away.

John Ylvisaker was born on May 2, 1919, in Decorah, IA, the second child of Norma Norem and Dr. Sigurd C. Ylvisaker, a professor of theology and classical languages at Luther College.

As the result of a split between the conservative and more liberal factions of the Evangelical Church of America, the family soon moved to Madison, WI, where Dr. Ylvisaker's father was for a time minister of a conservative Lutheran parish.

When Dr. Ylvisaker was in his early teens, in 1930, the family moved to Mankato, MN, when his father took on the presidency of Bethany Lutheran College, then a small struggling high school and junior college that the Norwegian Evangelical Lutheran Church had recently opened. The school proved to have a formative influence on Dr. Ylvisaker's life and his later scholarship interests.

Dr. Ylvisaker's wife of 36 years, Tekla Strom Ylvisaker, died in 1988. After her death, he established several nursing scholarships in her name at Oakland University's School of Nursing.

He was an active participant in the selection of candidates and was a mentor and friend to many of them up until his death. He structured a new model for scholarship programs, working to include previous scholars in the selection process and pre-funding annual gatherings through which the scholars could mentor and support one another.

He also funded scholarships, in which he was actively engaged, at Bethany Lutheran College in Minnesota, and at his alma mater, the University of Minnesota School of Medicine.

Dr. Ylvisaker is survived by two daughters, Susan Ylvisaker (Gordon) of Morristown, NJ, and Nancy Ylvisaker (Jones) of St. Louis, MO; two sons, Jon Erik Ylvisaker and Jeffrey Ylvisaker, both of Clarkston, MI; a sister, Barbara Ylvisaker Newsom, of Sarasota, FL; and nine grandchildren.

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