Department of Surgery Mourns the Loss of Herbert Ward, MD, PhD

Our colleague and friend Herbert B. Ward, MD, PhD passed away on May 10 after recently being diagnosed with cancer.

Herb was devoted to this University and department dedicating his entire career for more than five decades performing surgery, conducting research and teaching the next generation of cardiothoracic surgeons. Many of those five decades were spent as a student, earning all of his degrees at the U of M (undergraduate, medical school, PhD, surgery residency (1985) and cardiovascular fellowship).    

Following the completion a 3-year fellowship in thoracic and cardiovascular surgery at the U of M, Herb joined our department as a faculty member rising to the rank of professor, and chief of the division of cardiothoracic surgery as the C. Walton and Richard C. Lillehei Professor and Chief. 

Anticipating retirement in June 2019, Herb mentored Dr. Rose Kelly to become the next chief of cardiothoracic surgery, a role she assumed in July 2017.   

"Herb was such a unique and special person. His talent for teaching, operating, scientific questioning, and team building were so admirable. He spent his entire career at the University and loved being here. His dedication to the VA was beyond measure and I feel like the program there is "his program"! His sense of fun and adventure were second to none. I truly believe we are all better for having him in our lives. I know I am. I am just so sorry he is gone so soon. It isn't right. We will do something to honor his contribution to CV surgery and our team. But for now I wanted to let you know that we have lost our friend and colleague," says Dr. Kelly.

Passionate about training the next generation of surgeons, Herb continued to serve as program director for the cardiothoracic surgery fellowship program, a position he planned to continue to hold following his retirement from clinical practice this June.

As his family and friends report Herb was a man of diverse interests and talents.

“He flew planes and helicopters. He was a lifelong Twins fan and Opera buff. He rounded up cattle and attended Wagner's entire Ring cycle. He heliskied the bumps, hunted grouse and caribou, studied astronomy, canoed and portaged through the Quetico, mountain biked in Moab, photographed everything, shot firearms and fireworks of all make and model, pulled tubers behind his boat, ran marathons, consumed massive amounts of sushi, rode his motorcycle across Europe and the USA and gathered (persuaded, coerced) his family and friends for much of the above and for weeks of riding, music around the campfire, food, fireworks and fun. Herb was a devoted husband and father.”

Herb was a beloved colleague, mentor and friend, who deeply cared about his patients.   We share our deepest condolences with his wife Lori and children, Charlie and Jazz.

Celebration of Herb's Life will be on Friday, June 7 from 7-10 pm Promenade Ballroom, St. Paul Hotel. Valet parking and block of hotel rooms available. Memorials to: Herb Ward Award for Excellence in Teaching, University of MN Foundation, McNamara Alumni Center, Suite 500, 200 Oak Street SE, Mpls. MN 55455. 

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