Geoffrey Oliver Hartzler, MD, passed away suddenly in his home at the Lake of the Ozarks on March, 10, 2012. Family, friends, and medical and business colleagues will remember Dr. Hartzler as a generous and caring man who was as humble as he was brilliant. Funeral: 11:30 a.m. Friday in Greenwood Chapel, Fort Worth, TX. A memorial service will follow in Kansas City, on a date to be determined. Interment: Greenwood Memorial Park. Visitation: 6- 8 p.m, Thursday at Greenwood Funeral Home. Memorials: In honor of his courageous battle against prostate cancer, gifts in Geoffrey's memory can be sent to the Prostate Cancer Foundation at www.pcf.org/geoffreyhartzler
or the American Heart Association
. Pallbearers: Greg Hartzler, Ronnie Cooper, Wayne Cooper, Steven Bodie Cooper, Lew Wagner, and Zach Shafran. In his lifetime, Dr. Hartzler was revered as a pioneer in the field of interventional cardiology. In 1981, he became the first physician to use percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty (PTCA) to treat heart attack. Despite intense criticism and skepticism, Dr. Hartzler was able to refine and defend the procedure, finally establishing direct angioplasty as the preferred standard of care worldwide, saving millions of lives. He performed the first PTCA to treat multiple vessel disease. He created the first implantable defibrillator to reach the market and be used effectively. He was also instrumental in developing the first steerable guidewire catheters and went on to help design a family of "Hartzler" balloon catheters used in angioplasty. Dr. Hartzler possessed enormous energy, intense concentration, and unparalleled technical skills. He worked hard to offer better results and more efficient care to patients. His commitment to teaching and research was legendary. He created the first database aggregating outcomes data of tens of thousands of patients. He began the first U.S. interventional cardiology teaching course, training a generation of cardiologists. In 1986, he developed the Advanced Angioplasty Fellowship training program, which has been emulated world round. After cutting back his clinical practice in 1993, Dr. Hartzler pursued his many business interests ranging from radar technology to medical devices. Yet, he remained a prominent figure in the international cardiology community. He took on the directorship of the Mid America Heart Institute at St. Luke's Hospital in Kansas City, where he had been on staff as a Consulting Cardiologist since 1980. He continued to publish in peer review journals, and travel to conferences around the world. He appeared in Who's Who in America in 1998, has been the subject of numerous interviews and articles, and has received more awards than he would want to admit. His contributions to the advancement of angioplasty and cardiology are recognized annually through the "Geoffrey O. Hartzler Master Clinical Operator Award" given by the Society for Cardiovascular Angiography and Interventions. Dr. Hartzler's achievements and accolades could fill volumes, but he, more than any, would have hated the idea. He revolutionized cardiac medicine in the face of initial scrutiny and criticism, and yet, he was a humble man. He was kind and always curious and interested in those around him. Family, friends, and even acquaintances felt that he was a blessing, the one person they could truly count on for help if needed. He relished a quiet life with his wife and the affection of his daughters and close friends. For many years, he and Dorothy often retreated to their house at the Lake of the Ozarks. His brother Greg remembers that even while blowing up stumps with homemade explosives and getting into other sorts of mischief as young man, Geoffrey was always helping people. As a young cardiologist (and an old one!) Geoffrey enjoyed fast cars and motorcycles, wearing cowboy boots to work, and mastering new technology. He loved music and was a talented bass guitar player. In fact, his brother Greg has said that he always thinks of Geoffrey as a musician first. As a young man, Geoffrey was a member of several popular jazz and rock n' roll bands that performed in the area around his northern Indiana hometown of Goshen. In recent years, his Kansas City band, "Heart Rock," performed and cut several CDs. Geoff had fun mixing their recordings, as well as jamming with other musician friends. He was born Nov. 6, 1946, in Goshen, Ind. He had two brothers, one deceased as a teenager. His father Robert was a Mennonite minister who helped establish the first outpatient community mental health center in the United States. His mother Emma contracted polio when Geoffrey was four years old. She lived in an iron lung for nearly four decades. Geoffrey's Mennonite upbringing deeply informed his perspective on life. A quotation he particularly liked is by Benjamin Whicote: "Our fallibility and the shortness of our knowledge should make us peaceable and gentle." Geoffrey was certainly both. Survivors: Geoffrey is survived by Dorothy, his wife of 27 years; brother, Gregory; daughters, Abby, Christine, Amanda, and Angela; and grandsons, Jonah and Oliver. He will be sorely missed. Arrangements: Greenwood Funeral Home, 3100 White Settlement Rd., Ft. Worth, TX 817-336-0584
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Published by Kansas City Star on Mar. 14, 2012.