URMC’s James A. DeWeese, M.D., Helped Shape Cardiovascular Surgery

November 18, 2013

James A. DeWeese, M.D., a pioneer in cardiothoracic and vascular surgery and a former chair of Cardiothoracic Surgery and Vascular Surgery at the University of Rochester Medical Center, died Nov. 14, 2013. He was 88.

Dr. DeWeese served on the faculty for more than 50 years before retiring in 2009. As a professor of Surgery, he was chair of Cardiothoracic Surgery from 1975 to 1991, and of Vascular Surgery from 1987 to 1991, and an adjunct clinical professor of Surgery at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Md.

Throughout his decades of service to the university, although patients were Dr. DeWeese’s priority, he considered his greatest accomplishment to be helping train many outstanding cardiac and vascular surgeons. He attributed much of his success to the mentorship he received from Earle Mahoney, M.D.; and to collaboration with: Seymour Schwartz, M.D., Jim Adams, M.D., Charles Rob, M.D., and George L. Hicks, M.D. He partnered with Adams on the development of the Adams-DeWeese clip. Fashioned in 1966, the plastic, clamp-like device secured to the inferior vena cava (a large vein that ferries de-oxygenated blood back to the heart), preventing life-threatening clots while at the same time not unnecessarily impeding blood flow. For a period, it was the most turned-to device for patients with thromboembolic disease.

“He had a remarkable legacy here at the University of Rochester, both in clinical care and education of tomorrow’s physicians. He was a wonderful man, doctors and mentor and it is a significant loss for the institution,” said Jeffrey H. Peters, M.D., Seymour I. Schwartz Professor and Chair of Surgery.

Dr. DeWeese was president of national and international surgical organizations, including the Society for Vascular Surgery, American Venous Forum, Eastern Vascular Surgical Society, Upstate New York Vascular Society, Pan Pacific Surgical Association, North American Chapter of the International Society for Cardiac and Vascular Surgery, International Society for Cardiac and Vascular Surgery, and the Senior Cardiovascular Society.

He served on the national boards of the American Heart Association, American Board of Surgery, Thoracic Board of Surgery, and four editorial boards; and was on the Advisory Council on Cardiothoracic and Vascular Surgery for the American College of Surgeons, the Cardiac Advisory Committee to the New York State Department of Health, and on the National Board of Medical Examiners, the Board of Trustees at Clifton Springs Hospital, and the Blue Shield Board of Directors.

Dr. DeWeese received distinguished service awards from the American Heart Association and the Society for Vascular Surgery, the Eastern Vascular Society Lifetime Achievement Award, and the Roswell Park Medal.  There is a lectureship in his honor yearly at the University of Rochester Medical Center.

He was an honorary member of the University of Michigan Coller Surgical Society, the Dallas Texas Jesse Thomas Vascular Society, East Carolina Vascular Society, Gulf Coast Vascular Society, Southern Surgical Association, Southern Association of Vascular Surgeons, Brazilian Society of Angiology, and the Royal Australian College of Surgeons; and provided over one hundred lectureships and professorships around the country. He cared for thousands of patients, and published numerous papers, abstracts, and book chapters throughout his career.

He was born in Kent, Ohio, and attended Harvard University, Kent State University, and the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, and served in the United States Army at Carlisle Barracks and in Germany.

An avid golfer, he was a member of Oak Hill Country Club and he was proud to be a Masters Golf Tournament patron, traveling to Augusta, Ga., annually.

Dr. DeWeese is survived by his wife, Pat, children Jim (Elsie), Meg (Pierre), Beth (Eric), Joanne (Fran), Bob (Maura), and Jamie (John), and grandchildren Cristina, Stephanie, James, Remy, Tim, Molly, Cameron, Maya, Otis, and Jonathan.

Private interment at the Academy Cemetery, Seneca Point on Canandaigua Lake. In lieu of flowers, consider donations to the James A. DeWeese Endowment Fund at the University of Rochester Medical Center; or the URMC Division of Cardiac Surgery in care of George Hicks, M.D.; or the Rochester Presbyterian Home. To share a memory or send a condolence to the family go to: www.anthonychapels.com.

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Leslie White
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