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1925 - 2019

Bruce Calder Paton, M.D., 1925-2019

Born in India while his father served as a physician in the Indian Medical Service, Bruce Paton was educated in Scotland. At age 18, he joined the Royal Marines during WWII and served as a member of the Royal Marine Commando in 1945-1946. Following his military service, he attended medical school at the University of Edinburgh. He was a fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh as well as a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh.

Bruce met Patricia Ryan, an American, in 1953, while sailing to the United States aboard the Queen Mary. After being married in New York in 1955, they returned to Scotland for Bruce’s surgical career. In 1958, Dr. John Bruce, President of the Royal College of Surgeons, Edinburgh, arranged for Bruce to travel to Denver, Colorado, to train in cardiac surgery with Dr. Henry Swan, the chair of surgery at the University of Colorado. Dr. Swan was a pioneering cardiac surgeon and famous for the use of hypothermia for the conduct of cardiac operations. Bruce joined the faculty at the University of Colorado and served as the Chief of Cardiothoracic Surgery from 1962 to 1979. He was a gifted cardiac surgeon in the early years of the specialty and a beloved surgical educator. An excellent administrator, he served as the acting Dean for the School of Medicine from 1978-1979. Thereafter, he entered the private practice of cardiac surgery at Porter Hospital in Denver. After retirement from practice in 1995, he remained a prominent leader of the Denver medical community and an integral part of the Department of Surgery at the University of Colorado. He was a long-time advisor to the leadership of the University of Colorado School of Medicine.

Bruce Paton was a remarkable renaissance man. In addition to being a busy and innovative cardiac surgeon, he had many other interests and talents. He served as the Director of the Given Institute of the University of Colorado School of Medicine in Aspen. In addition to his prolific scientific writings, he published two books on the history of the University of Colorado Department of Surgery. He also published books titled Wilderness First Aid; Lewis and Clark: Doctors in the Wilderness; and Adventuring with Boldness: The Triumph of Explorers. He was an expert in wilderness medicine and served as the president of the Colorado Outward Bound School. He actively enjoyed all outdoor activities and was an enthusiastic world traveler, an expert photographer, birder and watercolor painter. His presentations to the Denver Academy of Surgery on non-medical topics were legendary and always standing room only.

Bruce was preceded in death by his wife of nearly 57 years, Patricia. He is survived by their sons Peter, Ian and Allen and four grandchildren.