James M Hunter, M.D.
(1924 - 2013)

Profile:
James M Hunter M.D.
Nickname: Jimmy and the Fly

Birth:
New Jersey, United States of America
April 5, 1924

Passing:
Chester Springs Pennsylvania, United States of America
January 29, 2013


Memorial
James M. Hunter, M.D.
Celebration of an Extraordinary Life
A Hand Surgeon of Significant Consequence

This permanent site is dedicated to the extraordinary life of the renowned hand surgeon, professor, mentor, musician, World War II Army veteran, Father and larger-than-life persona of Dr. James M. Hunter, M.D., who passed from this world peacefully to join that ‘Big Band in Heaven’ on January 29, 2013 at the generous age of 88.

Affectionately known to many as “Jimmy” and the “Fly” to others through his legendary bass fiddle playing, Dr. Hunter fulfilled an improbable life of achievement, innovation, mentoring and caring felt throughout the orthopaedic world through his pioneering work with surgery of the hand and upper extremity and most particularly with his emergent work in the previously untapped science and practice of hand therapy. An avid musician, champion rower and passionate sailor with a booming voice, bulldog strength, dogged determination and a sunshine spirit hitched to an inimitable style that was steadfastly dedicated to his patients and profession--the Jim Hunter that we all know will be missed greatly. His legacy will continue in the hearts and minds of countless many he touched around the world through his contribution to medicine, patients and the important institutions he worked tirelessly to promote. He is most certainly another fallen leaf from that tree that brought us the "Greatest Generation." May his soul enrich the soil to which he has fallen and give us another Dr. Hunter who might dare fill his shoes.

A longstanding professor and practicing surgeon at Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, James M. Hunter, M.D. (Class of 1953) was awarded only the fifth Distinguished Professorship since the 1824 founding of the University. As Distinguished Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery, Dr. Hunter developed the world's first artificial tendon for use in reconstructing hands. He was awarded the first fellowship in hand surgery by Columbia University in 1959 and was instrumental in the creation of what remains the ‘bible’ of hand surgery and therapy, the 1,900 page, two-volume text now in its 6th Edition, the “Rehabilitation of the Hand and Upper Extremity.” He was a founding member of the Philadelphia Hand Center and the "Philadelphia Meeting" which gathered hand surgeons from around the world and under which he mentored some 150 fellows in hand surgery and some 8,000 hand surgeons and therapists (now in its thirty-eighth year). In 1995 the Congresses of the International Federation of Societies for Surgery of the Hand bestowed its highest honor on Dr. Hunter naming him one of its “Pioneers of Hand Surgery” at the Sixth International Congress in Helsinki, Finland.

Jim Hunter's dedication to patient care was legendary. He was famous for his time consuming and inquisitive style of diagnosis, his surgical genius and his single minded determination to heal the injured. He had a particular focus on Vietnam war veterans and injured factory workers of the 60’s and 70’s, many of whom lost their livelihoods and their self-esteem when they were injured. Jim Hunter dedicated his life to giving function back to the afflicted and to the higher calling of restoring dignity and purpose to his patients who came from all walks of life. Famed American artist Andrew Wyeth (for whom Dr. Hunter performed hand surgery) may have said it best when--as a gift of thanks to Dr. Hunter for his successful hand surgery--he handwrote on a print of what many regard as his most famous painting, “Christina's World,” the following: “Dr. Hunter, you are the only man I trust with my hands – I only wish you could have helped my Christina," signed, Andrew Wyeth (the original resides in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York).

Dr. Hunter leaves behind his wife, Margaret Hunter, his two sons Gary Hunter and Jeffrey Hunter and daughter Kimberly Hunter and three grandchildren. He also leaves his sister, Margaret Hunter Crook and her husband, Richard Crook. His first wife and mother of his three children, Carolyn Lippincott Hunter, predeceased Jimmy. He also leaves behind his cousin, Bruce Foster and his wife Mary Louise Foster, whom he grew up with and remained close. He now joins his mother Helen Megargee Hunter and his father Robert Hamilton Hunter. Jimmy had four children by marriage to Margaret Hunter including Karen Cook, Dr. Karl Koerper, Dr. Philip Koerper and Kristi Koerper including 23 grandchildren and 5 great grandchildren.

Additional biographical information on Dr. Hunter's life will be periodically added to this site.

A fitting ‘Celebration of Life Memorial’ was held for Dr. Hunter at his favorite church, historic Christ Church in the fair City of Philadelphia on Saturday, 23 February, 2013
at eleven in the morning.

Christ Church in Philadelphia
2nd Above Market
20 N. American Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106
215.922.1695

The Rev. Timothy Safford, Rector, presided over the ceremony attended by over one hundred of his family, friends and members of the medical profession.

The following distinguished colleagues of Dr. Hunter honored him as follows:

Thomas Jefferson Medical College Peer: Dr. Phillip J. Marone, MD, Associate Dean of Alumni Affairs of Thomas Jefferson University shared his remembrances as a colleague and peer of Dr. Hunter to honor his legacy and commitment to Thomas Jefferson University.

The Hand Therapist Perspective: Jane Fedorczyk, PT, PhD, CHT, ATC
Clinical Professor
Director, Post-Professional Clinical Programs
Department of Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation Sciences at Drexel University shared her thoughts on the impact of the life and work of Dr. Hunter on the emergent field of hand therapy for which he had a global impact.

His Former Hand Fellow - a Remembrance from his Mentee: Dr. Peter C. Amadio, M.D., the Lloyd and Barbara A. Amundson Professor of Orthopedics and Biomedical Engineering and Dean for Research Academic Affairs, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN and Hand Fellow of Dr. Hunter concluded the remembrances with his thoughts and memories as a student and mentee.

A reception was held following the service at the Historic Neighborhood House of Christ Church.

Please do leave your remembrances as a permanent honor to the life of Jim Hunter. This website has been made permanent reminder of his life, his accomplishments and his character. Thank you for caring and for visiting. Jim is smiling from above.

Guest Book Wall (What is this?)

Hover your mouse over the wall images to see each guest book entry.

Guest Book (19 entries)
I am a professor of medicine and I know that James M Hunter is famous for the quote 'Treat the patient, not the X-ray'. Seems logical to have been this Dr Hunter. Clearly a great physician. Thanks for the site.
Karim Khan
July 16th, 2016
In 1977 I almost lost my right hand, but thanks to Dr. Hunter he brought my hand back to me. Dr. I will never forget your love and caring for me and your patients. May god bless you and bless your family.
Neil Bubbosh (patient)
April 5th, 2015
I met Dr. Hunter in October, 1985. It was a miracle to find a Doctor like him for the dire straights my arms were in from a work related accident. He pulled me through numerous difficult surgeries, therapies, and difficult times in my life, I was under his care for several years as he always took care of me and like an angel watched over me. He was the most kind, considerate, caring and compassionate person I ever met in my life and who pulled me through many difficult times. He always gave you hope, strength, and courage to pull you through.
I know there is a special place in heaven for this man and God has given him many blessings for the work he did. I know that he was sent down to us for that purpose.
Myself and my family will always have nothing but love, respect and fond memories of this man. There will never be another.
God Bless you Dr. Hunter, I will miss you greatly.
Gary S. Lukich Sr. (patient)
October 29th, 2013
JIM HUNTER, M.D.

“Memories of Dr. Jimmy”

One Thanksgiving, years ago, we went in Jimmy’s Rolls Royce following a Fox Hunt. He stopped the car by the roadside where a group of people were watching the chase in a field.

An older man came toward his car and said “hello Dr. Jimmy.” Jimmy responded and asked how’s your hand? The elderly man said “fine.”

Jimmy said let me see your hand. The man extended his arm and Jimmy began to press certain joints on his hand all the while asking questions. All was fine and the patient-friend walked on.

I was impressed that Jimmy was concerned for his patient and took the time to check his hand. He knew the patient’s name, knew the prior ailment and treatment given and took time to check it out to his medical satisfaction!

On another occasion there was a formal soiree at Jimmy’s home and he was in the front hall greeting guests.

One of the couples that came in brought their son, age 30 or so and not dressed formally. When the son came forward he told Jimmy that he was a carpenter and was losing control of his hammer.

Right there Jimmy started pressing his hand, his arm and shoulder, all the while asking questions of the young man. Does this hurt? Squeeze hard, etc.

Jimmy finished and said “we can fix your hand and arm, call up and we’ll start treatment and teach you some exercises too. We can correct that.”

I marveled at his concern and time given at a holiday party that he was concentrating on helping a young worker with occupational problems he could solve.

These small incidents show his concern and care for his patients. It was his driving force that he had the consuming interest and special skills to help anyone, anytime, anywhere.

Bless you Dr. Jimmy – we remember you well

Edward W. Cook, Sr.
Edward Cook, Sr. (Family by marriage)
March 8th, 2013
What a loss to myself and the field of Hand Surgery. It was a privilege to be trained by him when the field was in its infancy. He was kind, attentive, intense and so fair in his dealings with me. Very respectful of my person, my family and my background. He always had big dreams and he involved himself tirelessly in their accomplishment, such as the Silicone tendon also known at the time as the Hunter tendon and it's two-stage technique of which I became the proponent in NorthEast Pa.
Wow! He had a full life, enjoyed every moment and shared it with those of us around him. God Bless you my friend, my mentor. You are in my thoughts and prayers.
Adel Roland Barakat,MD (Fellow #1)
February 23rd, 2013
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Candles

"I am a hand surgeon from Athens, Greece. I met Dr Hunter in Cambridge, UK in 2002. He generously shared his knowledge on tendon reconstruction with me and helped with my PhD thesis. We grateful for his great contributions in the the field"
Nikolaos Darlis
March 15th, 2014
"Dr.Hunter prescribed a unique therapeutic procedure that saved me from shoulder surgery. A procedure the senior therapist had never done before. Today I have full use of my arm. Dr. Hunter was the expert in his field. I will never forget him."
John Towson
February 13th, 2013
"I have so many happy memories of Jimmy over the years we spent celebrating many special occasions with the extended Hunter, Koerper, Cook families. He will be dearly missed and our thoughts and prayers are with all of you. Much love, the Hanleys"
Cate Hanley
February 12th, 2013

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