It would not be an overstatement to say Dr. Joseph Garamella revolutionized heart surgery and helped save innumerable lives.
He became a surgeon in the 1950s, when the most basic principles of open heart surgery were still being worked out.
As one of cardiology's pioneers, he performed some of the first open heart surgeries in Minnesota using techniques he helped develop. And he did it quickly, deftly and calmly.
Garamella passed away on June 21 at age 97. As part of the occasional series Parting Thoughts, MPR's Cathy Wurzer spoke with Garamella's wife of 37 years, Jackie.
"He was excellent at what he did. Total confidence. Never hesitated," Jackie Garamella said. "The nurses named him 'cool hand Luke' ... and that's exactly what he was."
Garamella was born to poor Italian immigrants in Bridgeport, Conn., in 1919. He was one of seven children and his parents could only afford to send one child to college. They chose Joseph.
"Joseph always felt responsible for taking care of them and helping them because he was the one that was chosen," Jackie Garamella said.
In addition to his medical practice, Joseph and Jackie Garamella owned a 265-acre working farm, Windsong Farm, in the western suburbs where they raised registered black Angus cattle and Paso Fino show horses.
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