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1937 - 2020

Elvin G. Zook, M.D., 1937-2020

Dr. Elvin G. Zook passed away on November 24, 2020 at his home in Springfield, IL. Dr. Zook was born on March 21, 1937 on a farm in Lancaster Township, Huntington County Indiana. He graduated from Lancaster Township High School in 1955 and went onto graduate from Manchester College in 1959. He completed medical school at Indiana University School of Medicine in 1963. Dr. Zook finished his rotating internship at Methodist Hospital (Indianapolis, IN) in 1964, and returned to Indiana University School of Medicine to complete his residency training in general surgery under Dr. James E. Bennett. Zook continued at Indiana University, thereafter, completing training in thoracic and cardiovascular surgery in 1969. Having rotated during his general surgery training with Harold Kleinert, MD (Louisville, KY) in surgery of the hand, he subsequently pursued and completed training in plastic and reconstructive surgery at Indiana University School of Medicine in 1971. He was board-certified by the American Board of Surgery, the American Board of Thoracic-Cardiothoracic Surgery, the American Board of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, and also by the ABS with a Certificate of Added Qualifications in Hand Surgery.

Dr. Zook took his initial post-training position as Assistant Professor in Plastic Surgery at Indiana University as well as Chief of Plastic Surgery at the Marion County General Hospital in Indianapolis. In 1973, he was recruited by Dr. Roland Folse to the newly formed Southern Illinois University School of Medicine as part of building a new Department of Surgery, and took his initial position as Associate Professor and Chair of Plastic Surgery, advancing to Professor with tenure in 1975. He served at SIU until his retirement, and had a very distinguished career in that role. Included in his accomplishments were the founding of a plastic surgery residency that has graduated 79 surgeons to date. He published over 140 peer-reviewed articles, 60 book chapters, and 2 books. He served as a visiting professor 61 times. Dr. Zook served as president or chair of a number of key national organizations, including serving as Chair of the American Board of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, and as President of the American Society of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons, the Association of Academic Chairmen in Plastic Surgery, the Midwestern Association of Plastic Surgery, and the Plastic Surgery Research Council. He served as Editor-in Chief of the journal HAND. Of all his professional achievements, he was most proud of the establishment by SIU School of Medicine in 2008 of the Elvin G. Zook Endowed Chair in Plastic Surgery.

Indicative of Dr. Zook’s spirit in developing the next generation of plastic surgeons is the following anecdote. At a dinner of past and present plastic surgery residents a few years ago, Dr. Zook was noted to quiet the room, and offered the following: “They asked me, today, at an (ASPS) interview of icons in plastic surgery, about my thoughts about my greatest accomplishment as a plastic surgeon. I said you!” (as he pointed to all of the residents in the room).

Dr. Zook is survived by his wife and high school sweetheart, Sharon Kay Neher, whom he married in December of 1961 while in medical school. He is also survived by three daughters, Tara Bennett, MD (OB-GYN), Leigh Kreuger, RN and Nicole Sommer, MD (Plastic Surgeon), and seven grandchildren.