American Surgical Association Transactions

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1928 - 2020

NAME, 1928-2020

George D. Zuidema was born on March 28, 1928 in a small town in Southwestern Michigan, Holland, where much of the population was of Dutch descent, as were the Zuidema’s. He attended the Public Schools in Holland, Michigan, and then entered Hope College, also in Holland. He graduated with honors in three years in 1949. He then entered the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine where he graduated at the top of his class in 1953. His training in General Surgery was obtained at the Massachusetts General Hospital. His post graduate training was interrupted for two years while serving in the United States Air Force stationed at Wright- Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio in the Aeromedical Labaratory. He participated in research in Physiology that subsequently helped the development of the American space program. Following his surgical training in Boston he was recruited back to his home state at the University of Michigan as an Assistant Professor. Four years later in 1964, just eleven years after graduating from its School of Medicine, George Zuidema was named Professor and Chairman of the Department of Surgery at Hopkins.

He spent twenty very successful and productive years at Hopkins, modernizing its surgical training program, and mentoring many young individuals who would become leaders in American surgery around the country. He also chaired the "Study on Surgical Services for the United States" (SOSSUS), sponsored by the American College of Surgeons and the American Surgical Association, which was a five year study of Surgical manpower in the United States. George Zuidema returned to Michigan in 1984 to serve as Vice Provost for Medical Affairs and Professor of Surgery at the University of Michigan. He helped devise a system by which the School of Medicine and Hospital could collaborate in a collegial and congenial fashion. After retiring from the University of Michigan, George and his wife Joan returned to their hometown in Holland, Michigan.

George met his future wife Joan Houtman as they were both entering graduate school, Joan at the Henry Ford Hospital School of Nursing, and George at Hopkins. Upon graduation in 1953, they were married. They were happily married for many years. George was predeceased by his wife Joan, and a young son Michael. He is survived by four children. The Zuidema’s spent many happy final years amongst friends and family in Holland, Michigan. George died July 6, 2020 after several years of fighting aplastic anemia. He was 92 years of age. George Zuidema was recognized as a very good surgeon, an excellent teacher and researcher, a superb administrator, but even more importantly an outstanding human being who set an example for all of his colleagues to live our lives by.