In Memoriam

Dr. Pieter A. de Vries

(1921-2016)

Dr. de Vries was a Charter Member of APSA.

Pieter A. de Vries, MD
June 28, 1921-March 26, 2016
A pioneering pediatric surgeon and native of San Francisco, “Piet” as he was known to his friends and family, attended Lowell High School, and University of California, Berkeley from 1939-1943, but graduated with both his BA and MD from Stanford in 1944 and 1947. He served in active duty in the Naval Reserve, 1947-1949 interrupting his surgical training to serve as ship’s doctor in Japan and China after the end of WWII. He completed train­ing in General Surgery at the University of Michigan, finishing in 1951 and moved to Boston for advanced training in Pediatric Surgery at Boston Children’s Hos­pital, 1951-1953. Piet was the first specialty-trained pediatric surgeon to prac­tice in the West, establish­ing a private practice in San Francisco. Known for his scholarship and a passion for perfection in his care of children, he practiced for many years in San Francisco.
 
He loved training resi­dents and students and held them to a high standard. He maintained both re­search and clinical teaching appointments at Stanford, and research appointments at UC Berkeley and Pres­byterian Medical Center. For many years, his basic science lab focused on com­parative anatomy, normal human development, and developmental anomalies. He was keenly interested in molecular biology and the emerging fields of genomics and proteomics, especially as they applied to diseases of childhood. His clinical practice led him to Santa Clara County Medical Center where he was Chief of Pediatric Surgery and then Chief of Pediatric, Gen­eral and Thoracic Surgery, then UC Davis, University of Kansas, and finally back to San Francisco, where he retired in 1996. His meticulous embryological studies laid the foundation for innovations in cardiac and anorectal surgery.
 
His practice began in an era before the develop­ment of academic pediatric surgery in the West, but throughout his career he was sought after as a visit­ing professor internationally, and he served as Professor of Surgery at Stanford, UC Davis and University of Kansas. He was a founding member of the American Pediatric Surgical Associa­tion and the Pacific Associa­tion of Pediatric Surgeons.
 
Piet delighted in music and dance, fly fishing in the Trinity Alps, Stanford football and Cal track. But he was rarely far from the water and sailboats, and both as skipper and crew, sailed for more than 50 years as a member of the San Francisco Yacht Club. Though he was a fierce com­petitor on the Bay, he could “charm the birds out of the trees” in social situations, and was especially warm in his later years, and with his grandchildren. Until very shortly before his death, he continued to study, intrigued by a full range of topics from the esoteric to the quotidian.
 
He died peacefully at his home in Marin County, Cali­fornia. He was preceded in death by his twin sister, Betty Bjornskov, their older sister, Annette Smitt and first wife, Jo de Vries. He is survived by his wife of 35 years, Louise de Vries, eight children and stepchil­dren: Catherine de Vries, Mary de Vries, Pieter E. de Vries, Lauren Cutter, Joani de Vries, Lynn Tennefoss, Michael Tennefoss, and Nan Chrostek, 15 grandchildren and one great grandchild.
 
Contributions in his name can be made to the Ameri­can Pediatric Surgery As­sociation Foundation, GICS Fund for training of young pediatric surgeons from low income countries. https://www.eapsa.org/about-apsa/apsa-foundation/donate/ or contact cdevriesmd@gmail.com.