Folsom Funeral Service

Ellis, Franklin Henry, MD

F. Henry Ellis, Jr. M.D., Ph.D. of Brookline, Massachusetts, died on September 25, 2011 at the age of 91. A son of Katherine McClintock Ellis and Franklin Henry Ellis, Dr. Henry Ellis (also known as Bunky) was born in Washington, D.C. on September 20, 1920.   A graduate of the St. Albans and St. Mark’s Schools, Yale, and Columbia’s College of Physicians and Surgeons, Dr. Ellis received his Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota while doing his surgical residency at the Mayo Clinic.  It was after experiencing an outbreak of polio at St. Mark’s that he decided to pursue medicine.

After an internship at New York City’s Bellevue Hospital and service as a Navy lieutenant (j.g.) at the end of WWII, Dr. Ellis joined the staff of the Mayo Clinic in 1953.  There he helped lead the postwar development of cardiovascular surgery, then a relatively new specialty.  A brilliant and internationally respected cardiovascular and thoracic surgeon, Dr. Ellis was widely recognized for his excellence in patient care, research and education.

He served as chair of the thoracic surgical section at the Mayo Clinic and was a professor of surgery at the Mayo School of Graduate Medical Education.  Later, after moving to Boston in 1970, he was chief of thoracic and cardiovascular surgery at Lahey Clinic Medical Center and was also chair of the department of thoracic and cardiovascular surgery at New England Deaconess Hospital, as it was then called, and clinical professor of surgery at Harvard Medical School. 

His professional distinctions included the award of the Billings Gold Medal by the American Medical Association. Dr. Ellis performed open-heart surgery into his 70’s and continued his clinical research until the age of 85. 

His wide-ranging career also included service during the Vietnam War: in 1968, with the AMA’s Volunteer Physicians for Vietnam, he provided surgical care to civilians in Nha Trang both during and after the Tet Offensive. 

He leaves his second wife, Mary Jane Walsh Ellis, and eight children: Katherine Ellis of San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, Lisette Ellis and Laura Ellis Milliken of Santa Fe, N.M., F. Henry Ellis III of Jamaica Plain, Mass., Margot Ellis of Tucson, Mimi Ellis Storey of Essex, Mass., Hedrick Ellis of Arlington, Mass., Michael Ellis of San Francisco and niece Sheila Clark of Manhattan and their families, including fourteen grandchildren and three great grandchildren.

A Memorial Service will be held at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 59 Court Street,  Dedham, MA on Friday October 7, 2011 at 11 a.m., with a reception immediately following in the parish hall.  In lieu of flowers, donations, in the name of Dr. F. Henry Ellis, Jr., can be made to the Thoracic Surgery Foundation for Research and Education, 500 Cummings Center, Suite 4550, Beverly, MA 01915.

Guestbook Entries

  1. Sister Cashel Weiler
    September 30th, 2011 | 10:01 pm

    I worked with Dr. Ellis at St. Marys HOspital in Rochester, MN when he was one of our cardiac surgeon and I was the head nurse of the Cardiac ICU and a 46 bed move out area. He had a brilliant mind but seemed a bit shy. Since I was in my early twenties what came off as shyness would now be called focused. He was always a gentleman and respectful of everyone. He practiced equity in all his dealings with patients, families and residents. It is said that one lives on as long as he or she is remembered.
    Bunky, you are going to live for a long time yet. Sr. Cashel

  2. Arris Donovan Sullivan
    October 3rd, 2011 | 8:49 am

    If I remember correctly Doc boarded a horse at Max Donovan’s farm for the kids – he always had time to visit.
    Our sympathy to the family.

  3. cw kaiser md
    October 3rd, 2011 | 9:47 am

    I had the great opportunity of working with Dr. Ellis as a 3rd surgical resident at the New England Deaconess Hospital. He was a gifted surgeon and skilled teacher, always cool and collected, no matter how unpredictable or chaotic a surgical procedure turned out to be. His professional and personal demeanor was always impeccable and he was indeed a true gentleman surgeon.

  4. Shirley Hutchins
    October 4th, 2011 | 10:09 am

    Mary Jane, Michael, and family. I am so sorry for your loss. I was thinking of Bunky on his birthday, knowing that he had turned 91. I enjoyed being his secretary in Boston as well as in Burlington. We made a pretty good team and when he was in the office seeing patients, the remarks around the department were, “Today is Bunky and Shirley day”. Please know that all of you are in my thoughts and prayers. I will be thinking of you on the 7th. I’ll be away and unable to attend his memorial service. Love to all of you. Shirley

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Folsom Funeral Service

Folsom Funeral Service