Untitled Document

Dr. Joseph J. Stetz, Jr.


In 1971, Dr. Joseph J. Stetz, Jr.  was drafted by the Army as part of the Berry Plan, which utilized young physicians and surgeons who had just completed residencies. Captain (Dr) Stetz was stationed in Okinawa, Japan, and his two daughters were born there in 1972 and 1973.  He completed a Basic Airborne Course conducted in Okinawa.  In 1973, he returned to the United States and was stationed at Cutler Army Hospital, Fort Devens, MA.  After completing his Active Duty obligation, Major Stetz joined the RI Army National Guard (that desperately needed doctors) on one condition: he would be attached to Special Forces.  Joe attended weekend training assemblies and Annual Training with SF in addition to fulfilling the requirements of RIARNG State Surgeon.  Joe also became qualified as a Flight Surgeon.  He would quietly remain in the background during SF operations.  However, when SF soldiers were injured, he would immediately come to their aid.  Joe would accompany them to the ER and take charge of their care.  Colonel (Dr) Joseph J. Stetz, Jr. retired after 30 years of service.  Joe was a Charter Member (D3819) of Chapter 48, SFA.
By Brendan McCarthy, Boston Globe Correspondent |  December 24, 2004
Dr. Joseph J. Stetz Jr. of Lexington, who picked medical school over a chance to compete in the Olympic swimming trials, was a man of few words except when it came to medicine.  The former surgeon, who wore cowboy boots and was known to give hugs to patients, died Saturday at Boston Medical Center at age 62. He died 12 hours after he was in a single-car accident in Lexington. A family member said he died after his blood pressure dropped.
"He was an old-school doctor who didn't mind giving patients a much-needed hug," said Bernadette Trenholm, Dr. Stetz's personal administrator and close friend. "Appointments were always as long as they needed to be with him. If the patients needed two hours, Dr. Stetz would give them two hours."  Dr. Stetz was a cardiothoracic surgeon at St. Elizabeth's Medical Center in Brighton for two decades until his retirement in October.
Dr. Stetz grew up in Manhattan and spent a lot of time swimming; his father was a swim coach. Dr. Stetz swam competitively at Harvard University and qualified for the 1964 Summer Olympic trials while a student. But Dr. Stetz, a butterfly specialist, faced tremendous family pressure to go to medical school and chose medicine over an Olympic bid. He received his medical degree from the SUNY Health Science Center at Brooklyn in 1968. In 1967 he married Estelle Manetas.  He spent many Thanksgivings and holidays working. "He had no problem staying up till 2 a.m. at the patient's bedside," Trenholm said. "There were times that he would perform three open heart surgeries a day, and up to 600 a year."
Medical textbooks and magazines took up a great deal of space in his Lexington home. "He was an avid reader," his daughter Jessica said. "He kept every magazine, every book, and every article."  Jessica, of Brooklyn, works in emergency medicine at SUNY Health Science Center at Brooklyn, her father's alma mater.  "He was extremely dedicated to his work and had a huge desire to always read and learn more," Jessica said. "Medicine is something we bonded over."
Dr. Stetz's other daughter, Rebecca of Oxford, England, has a doctorate in chemistry and works at Oxford University.Dr. Stetz was interested in the outdoors. He had a Stetson hat and several pairs of cowboy boots. He loved riding Sassy, his horse of 15 years, and dreamed of moving to Montana, his daughter Jessica said. Until recently, Dr. Stetz rode his horse several times a week. In addition to his daughters and former wife, Dr. Stetz leaves a granddaughter, Julia.