Jorge Manrique, Coplas a la muerte de mi padre (On My Father's Death, translated by Iciar Allendesalazar)
Death never comes at a good time for one who is active in a highly productive life and career. On November 8, 1998, such was the tragic, sudden loss of Julio H. Garcia, the head of neuropathology at Henry Ford Hospital and Health Science Center in Detroit, when he suffered, ironically, a cerebrovascular event (subarachnoid hemorrhage) while playing tennis, weeks before his 65th birthday.
Julio spent his illustrious career studying stroke and vascular pathology, going beyond just accurate description to the level of developing animal models of stroke and critically and lucidly investigating the basic consequences of the cerebral ischemic process. He did this with colleagues and experts in the basic sciences, neurology, neurosurgery, and hematology, bringing a wonderful and synergistic approach to his views and work that was still in high gear and traveling down new roads when he was taken from the neurological, neuropathological, and cerebrovascular communities.
Born on December 22, 1933, in Armenia, Colombia, he studied medicine at the National University of Colombia in Bogotá, emigrating to the United States to further sharpen his mind and skills. Focusing on neuropathology, under the guidance and mentoring of Dr Stanley Aronson, Julio spent quality time at the Medical College of Virginia; the University of Tennessee; Baylor College of Medicine; the University of Maryland (as division head for neuropathology); Bonn, Germany (via the Alexander von Humboldt Senior United States Scientist Award); the University of Alabama, Birmingham (as director of the Division of Anatomic Pathology-Neuropathology); and finally at the Henry Ford Hospital (through the persistent efforts of K. M. A. Welch) for the last 8 years of his career. He was the founding division head of neuropathology, holding a professorship of pathology, at Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, for the 5 years before his death.
His contributions to the field of stroke were numerous and of exceptional quality. He authored more than 155 medical journal publications and 85 chapters in textbooks, and he edited multiple medical textbooks. Virtually all the main textbooks on stroke include a chapter on neuropathology that was written by, needless to say, Julio. He had just finished editorial work on a comprehensive neuropathology textbook. Many students and residents learned a great deal about the brain and nervous system from Julio, and he was deservedly honored with best teacher awards on several occasions. In 1987, he was elected to the Spanish Neurological Society. He was also a member of many professional societies and served on the editorial boards of the American Heart Association's Stroke, the National Stroke Association's Journal of Stroke and Cerebrovascular Diseases, and the Journal of Neuropathology and Experimental Neurology.
Julio thought critically about the clinical problems in the field of stroke and then systematically attempted to work toward solving them in the laboratory. These problems, key to a better understanding of stroke that may lead to more rational, mechanistically based therapies, included the temporal evolution of focal cerebral ischemic changes; microcirculatory disturbances, including leukocyte vascular endothelium interactions, ultrastructural findings, reperfusion injury, and cocaine-related vasculopathy; and cerebral hemorrhage.
To have worked directly with Julio on areas of mutual interest was a treat, a pleasure, and a privilege. When Julio was "in the zone"—focused on a specific problem in stroke—there was no one more thoughtful, critical and methodical, intellectually honest, giving of his time, and collaborative in spirit. He always brought perspective to everything he did in science, and he carried this talent over into his hobbies and loves of classical music and humorous stories. He was extremely likable and truly cared about seeing that everyone in earshot was in good spirits.
To have heard his eulogies on that cold November day was to know in one's heart how much he was loved by his wife of over 30 years, Irene, and his sons David and Lawrence, both active in medicine and law, scholars inspired in great part by their father, a gentle, devoted scholar and family man. Julio was also a grandfather and had 6 surviving siblings, along with his mother.
Humanity and the field of stroke have been carried to a higher level because of you. Te echaremos de menos, Julio (we will miss you, Julio).
Levine SR, D'Olhaberriague L. Julio Hernán García, MD (1933-1998). Arch Neurol. 1999;56(10):1296. doi:10.1001/archneur.56.10.1296