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Arthur M. Pappas, MD, founding chair of orthopedics, dies at 84

Left indelible mark on UMass Medical School and UMass Memorial

By Mark L. Shelton

UMass Medical School Communications

March 23, 2016
  Arthur M. Pappas, MD

Arthur M. Pappas, MD

Arthur M. Pappas, MD, a cherished pillar of UMass Medical School and a pioneering orthopedic surgeon and educator, passed away on Tuesday, March 22, at the age of 84, Chancellor Michael F. Collins has announced.

“There are a few names that will forever be associated with the growth, development and excellence of this medical school, and Arthur Pappas is one of them,” said Chancellor Collins. “He was a vital and visionary architect of this university’s future, and among his many notable milestones—founding chair of the Department of Orthopedics, the surgeon who admitted and operated on the first patient here—Art always recognized that central Massachusetts, his home, deserved a world class institution and he worked tirelessly to make that happen. His mentorship, leadership, wise counsel and generosity will be deeply missed.”

Dr. Pappas was professor and chairman emeritus of the Department of Orthopedics & Physical Rehabilitation at UMass Medical School, stepping down from the chairmanship in 2001 after a career distinguished by accomplishments in sports medicine, rehabilitation and the special challenges faced by children born with severe physical disabilities. He recognized early that contemporary medicine would be best served by making the resources of academic medical centers available to community hospitals and initiated an affiliate hospital system in 1991, a key step in ensuring the availability of academic physicians at community hospitals throughout central and western Massachusetts. As chair of orthopedics, he built an orthopedic surgery training program that drew eminent faculty physicians from around the country and prepared UMMS students for leadership positions in academic medical centers; the program continues to offer one of the most sought after residency programs in the profession.

At the time of the creation of UMass Memorial Health Care, Pappas assumed a critical role in advising and managing relations with community and member hospitals, and retained the title of Vice President for Affiliate Relations for the rest of his career.

A native of Auburn, Mass., and a graduate of Harvard College and the University of Rochester School of Medicine, Pappas trained at Boston Children’s Hospital, Massachusetts General Hospital and Peter Bent Brigham Hospital in Boston.

He was the medical director for the Boston Red Sox from 1978 to 2003, a president of the Massachusetts Amateur Sports Foundation, and sponsor of the Bay State Games. He served as a committee member of Sports Medicine for the American Academy of Pediatrics, a president of the New England Rehabilitation Services of Central Massachusetts, a director of Health Services for Handicapped Children, and a past Massachusetts chairman for the International Year of the Child. His role as chairman of the Board of Trustees at the Massachusetts Hospital School in Canton, Mass., which serves severely handicapped children, was one of his most cherished positions

Pappas was the recipient of the Worcester District Medical Society’s Dr. A. Jane Fitzpatrick Community Service Award in November 1999, and The Physician Achievement Award from the Arthritis Foundation in September 2000. He was also presented with the Dr. Marian Ropes Award from the Arthritis Foundation. In 2011, he was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Massachusetts Medical Society.

Led by grateful patients and colleagues, multiple donors joined UMass Medical School in establishing the Arthur M. Pappas, MD, Chair in Orthopedics in 2003 with David C. Ayers, MD, invested as its first recipient. In 2001, a newly renovated amphitheater on the UMMS campus was formally dedicated in honor of Pappas and his wife, Martha, who survives him. His leadership gift to the fundraising effort for UMass Memorial Medical Center’s Emergency Campaign resulted in the naming of the pediatric emergency room in his honor, one of his many visible legacies.

Related links on UMassMedNow:
Massachusetts Medical Society honors UMMS faculty
Honorary degree recipients share the University’s values
Lifetime of making a difference honored
Honoring Arthur M. Pappas, MD (video)