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1923 – 2016

JOHN E. CONNOLLY, M.D., 1923 – 2016

On January 20, 2016, at the age of 92, John Earle "Jack" Connolly, MD, FACS, passed away peacefully, surrounded by his loving family.

He was born in 1923, in Omaha, Nebraska to Dr. Earle Connolly and Gertrude Connolly. He drew inspiration from his father, a surgeon, and went on to pursue a career in medicine. "Jack" graduated from Harvard College in 1945 and Harvard Medical School in 1948.

After completing his surgical residency at Stanford University, he took a position at the Professorial Unit of St. Bartholomew's Hospital in London. In 1955 he returned to Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center for two years to finish his training as chief resident in the thoracic and cardiovascular surgery department. In 1957 he returned to Stanford as an Assistant Professor of Surgery. He was honored as a Markle Scholar from 1957 to 1962. In 1965, Dr. Connolly was recruited to establish the Department of Surgery at the University of California, Irvine (UCI).

During his 50 years at UC Irvine, he pioneered numerous techniques in the fields of cardiovascular, vascular and general surgery including the development of a mechanical pump for heart bypass surgery. He also performed the first combined kidney-pancreas transplant west of the Mississippi in 1969. In addition to his many surgical contributions, he published over 500 scientific papers and book chapters.

Dr. Connolly's career took him all over the world with innumerable distinctions and visiting professorships, including honorary fellowships in the Royal College of Surgeons England, Ireland, and Edinburgh, and honorary membership in the Japan Surgical Society. He was also the former President of the International Cardiovascular Society, a member of the James the Fourth Association of Surgeons, and Vice-Chairman of the Board of Regents for the American College of Surgeons. His former surgical residents created The John E. Connolly Surgical Society in 1975 with the purpose of fostering mentorship and camaraderie among his former surgical residents.

In addition to being a dedicated surgeon, teacher and mentor, "Jack" was a devoted husband to wife, Ginny, and a beloved father to his three children, John, Peter, and Sarah. Dr. Connolly remained at UCI as the last original faculty member, teaching in the classroom for nearly half a century. He was more than a colleague; he was a dear friend to many.