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1938 - 2016

JOSEPH M. CIVETTA, M.D., 1938 - 2016

Dr. Joseph Michael Civetta passed away on March 30, 2016, in his home in the South Florida Keys with his wife, Judith Hudson-Civetta, at his side.

Joe was born in Mount Vernon, N.Y. on May 2, 1938, the only son to his parents Rose Mildred Pirone and Michael Joseph Civetta. Joe graduated Magna Cum Laude in 1959 from the Holy Cross University in Worcester, Massachusetts and Summa Cum Laude from Boston University School of Medicine in Boston, Massachusetts in 1963, where he was awarded the title, Doctor of Medicine, with all of its rights and privileges. He completed an internship and residency at the Massachusetts General Hospital. Joe then served two years of military service as a Major in the U.S. Air Force at Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, Mississippi. He returned to Massachusetts General Hospital from 1970 to 1972 as Director of its Surgical Intensive Care Unit. While at the MGH, he and Dr. Joe Gable literally described modern cardiovascular physiology.

Joe then began a long and illustrious career at the University of Miami Jackson Memorial Medical Center, where he rose to the rank of Full Professor of Surgery, Anesthesiology, Pathology and Medicine, and the Director of the Surgical Intensive Care Unit, from 1972 to 1997. Joe’s Critical Care fellowship produced five Presidents of the Eastern Association for the Surgery of Trauma (EAST) and three Presidents of the Society of Critical Care Medicine.

Joe Civetta left Miami to become the Chairman of Surgery at the University of Connecticut UConn Health Center and Director of Surgery at Hartford Hospital. He also assumed the role of General Surgery Residency Program Director and brought the UConn Residency Program to a whole, new level. In 2002, he retired from these posts, but remained as Vice Chairman of the Department of Surgery at UConn Health until 2012.

Joe was a prolific researcher and writer, and an innovative thinker. He is considered one of the founding fathers of Surgical Critical Care. His textbook, Surgery Critical Care, now in its fourth edition, has been the essential reference and guidebook to practitioners and fellows for over three decades. He strived to always improve the quality of care for the critically ill and taught the compassion and caring necessary to be an excellent caregiver. Joe leaves a legacy of the numerous fellows whom he trained and who now direct the major critical care departments throughout the country. Joe was President of the Society of Critical Care Medicine and presided over the 1981 World Congress; he was honored by a lifetime achievement award in 2005. Joe was a member of the American Surgical Association, the New England Surgical Society and the American Association for the Surgery of Trauma, to name a few prestigious organizations.

He retired with his wife Judy to the town of Islamorada, which is on the island of Tavernier in the Florida Keys, where he easily took on the island living culture. He loved deep-sea fishing, reading, target shooting, cooking and eating, and creating new recipes for which his family and friends dubbed him “Sir Mix-a-Lot.” He relished quality time with his children and grandchildren. He followed the example of his father in his enjoyment of telling jokes and making puns. Joe was competitive in everything from racecar driving to ping pong, with all who would dare to play with him, no matter what age. He was always ready to lend an ear and share life experiences. His critical thinking and perspective will be missed by family and colleagues alike. He sought deep connections with each of his children. It was his heart’s desire to know and grow with them. He was a devoted husband and loved his dear wife, Judith, beyond all else.

Joe is survived by his wife Judy, his five children, Nancy, Betsy, Peter, Jenny and Katy, fourteen grandchildren and his beloved mini-poodle, Ozzie. Joe Civetta is also survived by his brother-in-law James Hudson, his wife Patricia, niece Jennifer and her children.