Maurice J. Jurkiewicz, M.D.
1923 – 2011
President AAPS 1980 - 1981
Maurice “Josh” Jurkiewicz was a mentor, role model, and father figure to a generation of plastic surgeons who trained at Emory and the University of Florida. We affectionately referred to him as Dr. J. or simply the J! Behind that austere, quiet, and sometimes unapproachable and seemingly aloof façade was a soft hearted, fair and likeable man. A man devoted to the care and wellbeing of his patients, committed to the education of all, not just his plastic surgery residents. At times it was felt that he was perhaps more interested in the medical students and general surgery residents who rotated on the service than his own residents. It took a while to realize that he was actually evaluating them as possible future plastic surgeons. He had an enviable ability to identify “young talent” to recruit into his program. He was dedicated to the advancement of the specialty so that we could all better serve our patients.
The son of Polish immigrants, at age 17 he left his hometown of Bellow’s Falls, Vermont to attend the University of Maryland where he graduated magna cum laude with a DDS degree in 1946. He enlisted in the Navy and served the nation during the Second World War. Following his discharge, he was accepted at Harvard Medical School, graduating with a medical degree in 1952. His residency in general surgery and plastic surgery was at the Barnes Hospital in St. Louis where he worked with the likes of Carl Moyer, Evarts Graham, James Barrett Brown, and Vilary Blair. After completing his residency in plastic surgery he was appointed Chief of Plastic Surgery at the University of Florida, moving in 1971 to establish the Division of the Plastic Surgery at Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia.
He was a surgeon, an educator, and a leader who has left his mark on American plastic surgery. A man with no hidden agenda, no secret political ambitions, became President of the American Association of Plastic Surgeons, American College of Surgeons, American Society for Head and Neck Surgeons, and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the American Board of Plastic Surgery. He did not campaign; plot, push, or self promote himself into any of these positions. Rather, it was a reflection on his leadership qualities, the respect he commanded among his peers not only within plastic surgery but all of surgery. He served organized surgery and plastic surgery well while maintaining a practice and his commitment to the Emory training program. A commitment which he maintained until his failing health prevented him from active participation in conferences, resident selection, and ward rounds. His insight, knowledge of medicine and human failings was always evident during conferences, be in general surgery grand rounds or the twice weekly Emory plastic surgery conferences, when Dr. J. spoke we all listened, or should I say we held our breath? Was he about to praise us, was he going to refute what was said, with his dry, sarcastic style, was he about to rebuke one of us? Regardless, he always commanded our attention and utmost respect, which made him such an effective Chief.
All of those whose lives he has touched will sorely miss him. I know I do!