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Dr. Luis A. Tomatis

July 18, 1928 ~ September 29, 2020 (age 92)


Dr. Luis Tomatis, Thoracic Surgeon, medical visionary, community leader and author passed away September 29, 2020. He was preceded in death by his wife, Gretchen Minnhaar, brother Carlos Tomatis and Sister Bimba Schick. His daughter Gabriela Minnhaar-Tomatis, son-in-law Ted Vecchio and his grandsons Luis Vecchio and Teodoro Vecchio survive him. Dr. Tomatis was born in Rosario, Argentina. Educated in his native Argentina, Dr. Luis Tomatis, M.D., F.A.C.S., F.A.C.C. received his Medical Degree at Rosario Medical School in 1954. He trained in General Surgery in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and then in 1956 he came to the Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit to train in Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery. In 1965, he moved to Grand Rapids where he worked at Butterworth Hospital (now Spectrum Health) for thirty years as a Cardiovascular-Thoracic Surgeon. During that time Dr. Tomatis became Chief of Butterworth Hospital’s Thoracic and Cardiovascular Department and Clinical Professor of Surgery at Michigan State University.

Dr. Tomatis was a key figure in Grand Rapids modern medical environment. He essentially shaped the formulation of the Van Andel Institute, a world-class medical research center as the founding president and chief operating officer of the Institute from 1995-2001 He also served as the chief consultant to the Van Andel and DeVos families on how they might direct their philanthropy in regarding to medical institutions. After his work with the Van Andel Institute, He then move on to be the Director of Medical affairs of RDV Corp. and held that position until the day he passed away. Dr. Tomatis always said, “Aging is inevitable, to be old is optional” 

In a recent tribute to Dr. Tomatis and his years of service as Director of Medical Affairs to RDV Corporation and the DeVos family, Rich DeVos wrote, “…you’re professional and community leadership on health and research issues has been bold and visionary.  Perhaps more than anyone, you have been the steward of what we now proudly know as the “Medical Mile.”  Our community has been richly blessed by your extraordinary foresight, remarkable skill and sincere compassion.”

“I am an incorrigible optimist,” Dr. Tomatis would say “If you live well and do well, you will leave something. Your passage in this world will be marked by what was left behind.”

Dr. Tomatis has given his time and talents throughout the world, among others he recently served as a Trustee to Aquinas College from 2002-2011, a Trustee at the Magdi Yacoub Research Institute in Harefield UK from 2000-2014 and Holland Home from 2013. Dr. Tomatis has receive such awards as the Galaxy Award of the National Kidney Foundation and the Recognition Award from the Michigan Society of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgeons.  He is a member of Butterworth Hospital’s Distinguished Physician Society and was the first recipient of the Emeritus Lifetime Achievement Award at Spectrum Health.  Dr. Tomatis was a member of The Grand Rapids Rotary Club and was honored as a Paul Harris Fellow.  Ciudadano Ilustre de la Ciudad de Rosario, Argentina; as an Honorary Member of the Peruvian Society of Cardiovascular Surgery, the Argentine Vascular Society, Sociedad Venezolana de Angiologia y Cirugia Cardiovascular, and the Colegio Argentino de Cirujanos Cardiovasculares; as Doctor “Honoris Causa” of the University of Rosario, and as an Honorary Doctor of Science at Grand Valley State University. In 2012, Governor Rick Snyder appointed him to the Certificate of Need Commission and then re-appointed him in 2015.

In keeping with his wishes, cremation will take place and a mass will be scheduled later this year. The family is planning a celebration of life event for Dr. Tomatis sometime in 2021. Memorial contributions can be directed toward The Dr. Luis Tomatis Heart Fund. or by mail: Spectrum Health Foundation - Dr. Tomatis Heart Fund 25 Michigan St. NE Suite 4100, Grand Rapids, MI 49503.


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