Aug. 26, 1924-March 6, 2004. Preceded in death by father, Herbert "Lee" Kletschka and mother Emma Kopf Kletschka. Survived by sisters: Virginia (Virgil) Ross, Lake Hubert, Minn.; Marjorie (James) Peterson, Brainerd, Minn.; Barbara Kletschka of Golden Valley and Lake Hubert, Minn.; many nephews and nieces, great-nephews and nieces, and five great-great nephews. He was born in Minneapolis, grew up at Lake Hubert, near Brainerd, and graduated from Brainerd High School, earned an associates in arts degree from Brainerd Junior College (1943), earned a bachelor of science degree from the University of Minnesota (1946), and M.B. and M.D. from the University of Minnesota Medical School (1948), an LL.B. from Blackstone School of Law (1970), and in 1973, the Air Force named him the worldwide symbolic graduate of his Air War College class. He completed his internship at Kings County Hospital, Brooklyn, N.Y. (1949), took postgraduate work in surgery at the U of Michigan (1950) and served as assistant resident in surgery at University Hospital, Ann Arbor, Mich. He served as chief resident, thoracic surgery, and assistant professor of surgery, State University of N.Y., Downstate Medical Center until 1967. From 1967 to 1977 he concentrated on development of the Kletschka-Rafferty Artificial Heart for which he received the IR-100 Award, considered equal in stature to the Nobel Peace Prize, in 1972. He served as National co-host, US-USSR Medical Exchange in 1975. Practiced medicine in Minnesota, California, New York, Texas and Alabama, with many years of service in Veterans Hospitals. From 1978-1990, he served as a medical consultant at Brainerd Regional Human Services Center, Brainerd, Minn. He was licensed as a medical examiner and board certified as a thoracic, cardiovascular and general surgeon. He was a fellow and member of numerous medical societies in America, England and Europe; member of the American Society for Artificial Organs; a member of Knights of Columbus (4th Degree), The Secular Order of St. Francis, VFW and American Legion. He pioneered development of the artificial heart, heart assist devices, nonpulsatile extracorporeal blood pumps and numerous other medical devices. He was the co-inventor of the Bio-Pump. He discovered the medical spallation phenomenon, pioneered the Kletschka-Levowitz ffracture, as well as other pioneering medical work. The co-founder of Bio-Medicus, Inc., and its first board chairman, president and CEO. He founded K-Heart Industries, Inc., K-Heart of Minnesota, Inc., and K-Heart Endovascular, LLC, where he developed a total capture angioplasty embolic protection device. He served as an officer in the U.S. Air Force Reserves from 1955-1975 and retired as a colonel. During his Air Force service, he founded the U.S. Air Force Cardiovascular Research Center, then located at Park AFB, Calif. During the Berlin Crisis, he served as commander of the 107th USAF dispensary, in Syracuse, N.Y., but spent almost two years in France on active duty. From 1965-1973, he served as hospital senior staff physician mobilization augmentee at Malcolm Grow USAF Medical Center, Andrews AFB, D.C. He won numerous civilian and military medals; listed in several "Who's Who" directories; had published numerous scientific papers. In 1979, the Wisdom Hall of Fame added him as a member. He received the Winston Churchill Medal of Wisdom in 1988. Brainerd High School inducted him into its Academic Hall of Fame in 2000. He commissioned and collaborated in the writing of an original liturgical composition, the Pater Noster, composed and performed for His Eminence Francis Cardinal Spellman at Phalsbourg Air Base, France, on Dec. 31, 1961. In 2003, he wrote and had published "A Treatise on Human Life," a definitive work and a scholarly dissertation on life, "Common Law and abortion" (Alethos Press LLC, 2003; www.treatiseonlife.com). Dr. Kletschka consecrated his life and work to Our Lady of Mount Carmel, to serve the betterment of mankind through medical innovation and advance the cause to protect human life from abortion. The Kletschka family wishes to express special thanks to Patrick Neaton, attorney; Mic Puklich, attorney; Brian Packard, engineer; Edson Rafferty, co-inventor of the Bio-Pump, bio-medical engineer and attorney; James Sheehan, Jr.; and Dave Racer, biographer.
He was well known for his multiple God-given gifts, brilliance, humility, honesty, cute humor, purity and love for family and all people.
Memorials to St. Christopher's Catholic Church, Nisswa, Minn., or Good Shepherd Catholic Church, Golden Valley, Minn., or Human Life Alliance, Shoreview, Minn.
Mass of Christian Burial will be 11 a.m. Friday, March 12, 2004, at St. Christopher's Catholic Church in Nisswa with officiant Father George Zeck and Father Raymond Cossette, concelebrant. Burial will be in Evergreen Memorial Gardens in Brainerd with military honors provided by American Legion Post No. 255 Color Guard. Visitation will be from 5-8 p.m. Thursday with parish prayers and rosary at 7 p.m. Thursday at the church. Visitation continues Friday morning the hour before the service.
Arrangements by Nelson-Doran Funeral Home, Brainerd, Minn.
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