Denton A. Cooley, MD ’38
August 22, 1920 - November 18, 2016

Services: Monday, November 28, in Houston 
Dr. Cooley Photo
Dear Tau Brothers and Kappa Sigma Family,
With the passing of Dr. Cooley, we have lost a Kappa Sigma icon, a beloved Tau brother and friend, and the world has lost one of the finest heart surgeons of our time. He embodied every virtue sacred to Kappa Sigma and inspired us all to live life with purpose and passion.

Kappa Sigma always held a special place in Brother Cooley’s heart. He often asked about the Chapter and expressed how proud he was of the fraternity. Among the many international awards bestowed on him for his groundbreaking achievements in medicine, his Kappa Sigma honors, photos, and memorabilia enjoyed equal places of distinction on his office walls. 
In 1964, he was honored as International Kappa Sigma Man of the Year and two years later as Tau Man of the Year for his exceptional achievements in the field of medicine and his many contributions to the fraternity. Because of his significant donations to the current Capital Campaign, the Sport Court has been named in his honor.

“Denton Cooley was a Phi Beta Kappa in every respect,” said Joe Russo ’52. “He was a leader among leaders. Dr. Christiaan Barnard, after attending a surgery performed by Dr. Cooley, was quoted as saying ‘It was the most beautiful surgery I had ever seen.’ Brother Cooley’s remarkable life’s work was matched by his grace and kindness. His devotion to his Kappa Sig brothers never wavered.” 
For the past nine years, he hosted the Denton Cooley Tau Classic annual golf tournament in Houston and was on the winning team in 2010. Before hitting the honorary first tee shot, he would offer one of his favorite quotes, “Life without golf is like a brain without a heart.”

We started the Distinguished Alumni Speaker series in 2011 -- a great opportunity for our actives to learn from the best.  Dr. Cooley volunteered to be our first speaker. He shared great and hilarious stories from his days as a Kappa Sig active and sage advice from the many lessons he’d learned throughout his career and personal life.
He was a former UT basketball star and later a generous UT donor.  Consequently, the Denton A. Cooley Pavilion, a luxury training facility for the UT men’s and women’s basketball teams, was named in his honor. 

Dr. Cooley graduated from UT Austin in 1941 with highest honors and earned his medical degree from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in 1944. He performed the first successful human heart transplant in the United States in 1968 and the world’s first artificial heart implant in 1969.  
He has been awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian award; the Rene Leriche Prize, the highest honor bestowed by the International Surgical Society; the National Medal of Technology; and the Boukalev Premium, Russia’s highest award for cardiovascular surgery, bestowed by the Russian Academy of Medical Science.
Dr. Cooley was 96 years old. He was preceded in death by his daughter, Florence, and his wife, Louise, who passed away in October. He is survived by four daughters, 16 grandchildren and 17 great-grandchildren.  
A memorial service is scheduled for Monday, November 28, at 11 A.M. at Trinity Episcopal Church in Midtown, Houston.  

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be sent to the Texas Heart Institute, P.O. Box 20345, Mail Code 3-117, Houston, TX 77225-9969, or the Trinity Church Endowment, Inc., 1015 Holman, Houston, TX 77004.  

Our thoughts and prayers are with his family.  

Jim Pritchett

Jim Pritchett ’71
T.K.S.E.F. Chairman