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Dr. Richard N. deNiord

March 6, 1925-April 30, 2010

Dr. Richard N. deNiord Jr., 85, of Waubun, died on Friday, April 30, 2010 under the comforting care the Emmanuel Nursing Home staff in Detroit Lakes.

Born March 6, 1925 in Buffalo, N.Y., he was the son of Richard N. deNiord and Hollis Hunt deNiord, also both physicians. He attended the School of Practice and then Nichols Preparatory School before completing his senior year of high school in 1943 at Andover Philips Academy in Andover, Mass.

Following his graduation from Andover, he enlisted in the Marine Corps and served two years of active duty, achieving the rank of second lieutenant. As a platoon leader, he escaped almost certain death in the Pacific when World War II concluded just prior to his deployment.

In 1946 he married the former Nancy Perkins and settled in New Haven, Ct., where he finished the last two years of his undergraduate education in the Marine Corps' V-12 program at Yale.

Like his parents, he chose to pursue a career in medicine, enrolling in Yale Medical School, from which he graduated in 1952. He did his residency in general surgery at Yale New Haven Hospital from 1952 to 1956, and then his residency in thoracic and cardiovascular surgery at the University of Virginia Hospital from 1956 to 1958.

In 1959 he moved to Lynchburg, Va. with his wife and family, establishing a private practice in general, thoracic and cardiovascular surgery for the next 17 years. He also worked on a weekly basis during these years as a staff surgeon at the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad Hospital in Clifton Forge, Va.

In 1977, following his divorce, he moved to Crookston, where he continued to work as a surgeon at the Northwest Clinic until 1982 before moving to Wolfboro, N.H. and working as general surgeon at Huggins Hospital for a year.

In 1979, he married the former Ruth Ann Schmitz, a nurse from Red Lake Falls, Minn., who remained his devoted wife for the next 31 years. He also adopted and helped raise her two young children, Todd and Marla. In 1983, he moved with Ruth to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, where he was employed by the Hospital Corporation of America and served as Chairman of the Department of Surgery and Emergency Room Department, retiring in 1991 to his lake home in Waubun.

He belonged to several medical societies throughout his career, including the American Board of Surgery, the American College of Surgeons and the American Association of Thoracic Surgeons.

From 1991 until his death, he enjoyed an idyllic life on Lake Tulaby and his winter homes in Winter Haven, Fla., Tuscon, Ariz., and White Bear, Minn. After his heart attack and first stroke in 2006, Ruth attended to his medical needs selflessly, providing home care that extended his life far beyond his doctors' expectations.

He enjoyed playing squash, gardening, hiking, playing the harmonica, drums and piano, reading, cutting grass, running, writing and traveling extensively in his 5th wheeler with Ruth and his dogs. Instilled with a tireless work ethic, a romantic spirit, high ambitions, a ribald sense of humor, a vibrant imagination, deft surgical skills, sharp wit, musical talent, keen medical acumen, a forgiving nature and a deep love for his family, he lived his life fully with enormous gratitude and purpose. Shortly before he died, he remarked, "Dick deNiord, here in a flash."

To his family, friends and former patients, who number in the thousands, he will be remembered far longer than "a flash" for his legacy of saving lives, loving his family and friends, and overcoming formidable obstacles throughout his life to achieve his goals with grace, perseverance and humility.

He is survived by his wife Ruth; his ex-wife Nancy of Charlottesville, Va.; four children, Sally Shaffer of Lynchburg, Va., Chard of Putney, Vt., Holly Fraser of Charlottesville, Va., and Lymie of Colorado Springs, Colo.; two stepchildren, Todd of Minneapolis and Marla deNiord of St. Paul; 11 grandchildren; and nine great grandchildren.

His final resting place will be at Fort Snelling in Minneapolis. Interment services will take place at 11 a.m. Monday, May 17 at Ft. Snelling. David-Donehower Funeral Home, Detroit Lakes, is assisting the family with arrangements.

Memories may be shared at Donations may be made to the American Lung Association in his honor.