American Surgical Association Transactions

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1946 - 2019

Joseph J. Tepas, III, M.D., 1946 - 2019

Dr. Joseph J. Tepas III, a member of the American Surgical Association since 2010 died on December 20, 2019 after a long battle with squamous cell carcinoma; a tumor that was possibly related to the immunosuppression required following a bilateral lung transplant performed in 2015 for rapidly progressive idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.

Joe was born in Buffalo, New York in 1946 and spent his early years in Baltimore, Maryland. Following graduation from the College of the Holy Cross and Georgetown University School of Medicine he joined the United States Navy and completed residency training in Surgery at the Portsmouth Naval Hospital. He then trained in Pediatric Surgery with Dr. Alex Haller at Johns Hopkins. After five years of active duty in the Naval Medical Corps at Portsmouth Naval Hospital, he joined the faculty at the University of Florida, College of Medicine- Jacksonville. He, along with Ray Alexander, were the first two faculty members hired by Dr. Edward Copeland to start the University of Florida academic surgery residency program in Jacksonville. Dr. Tepas served for 32 years as a leader in the Department of Surgery, including 11 years as the Chair of Surgery, helping to build the Department into what it is today. He always focused on surgical education and helped train and mentor over 150 residents and fellows, 16 of whom went on to pursue Pediatric Surgery. His passion was the care of injured children and this helped grow pediatric trauma care and injury prevention in Jacksonville. Verification of Level One Trauma Centers for adults and children occurred largely as a result of his leadership. Later, he joined the efforts of the Florida Committee on Trauma and the Florida Department of Health to create a formal trauma system for the state; he is widely recognized as the principal architect of the Pediatric component of the Florida Trauma System. He continued his service to the Navy by conducting a Pediatric Surgery Clinic at the Naval Air Station in Jacksonville; he retired from the Naval Reserve with the rank of Captain. His academic achievements included nearly 200 peer-reviewed articles and membership in leading surgical societies such as the American Pediatric Surgical Association, the Southern Surgical Association, the Society of University Surgeons, the American College of Surgeons and The American Association for the Surgery of Trauma. Joe will be remembered for his dedication to the surgical care of children, his outgoing personality, and his love of sailing. He is survived by his loving wife Jean Ryan, three children (Kate, Meghan, and Joey), and seven grandchildren.