Service Tuesday for surgeon Ted Sadler

Ted Sadler

A memorial service for retired Brig. Gen. Theodore Roosevelt Sadler Jr., M.D., will take place at 7 p.m. Tuesday at First Presbyterian Church.

Ted Sadler, as he was best known, helped establish the cardiac-care program at St. Mary’s Hospital. In addition to being an accomplished cardiac surgeon, he held every rank in the U.S. Army up to brigadier general.

Sadler commanded the Third Surgical Hospital in Vietnam in 1966 and 1967 and was chief of thoracic surgery at Fitzsimons Army Medical Center in Aurora from 1968 to 1971.

Sadler died May 1. He was 80.

Although he had no contact later with soldiers who were treated at his hospital, he learned later that his name came up by happenstance at a local hospitality ministry in Denver when a staff member was speaking with a visitor who was wounded in Vietnam.

The visitor remembered Sadler’s name, saying, “I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for him,” Sadler’s daughter Shelley said.

“He loved that story,” Shelley said. “He had a positive influence. He saved that individual’s life.”

At St. Mary’s, a fellow physician was preparing with Sadler to operate in an emergency and inquired what exactly Sadler planned to do, said his wife of 57 years, Roberta.

“I don’t know yet what we’re going to do, but we’re going to do it very well,” Sadler responded.

Dr. George Shanks, then chief of staff at St. Mary’s, recruited Sadler to St. Mary’s because of his expertise.

“The idea was that this was to be as good as any program in the country,” Shanks said.

For her father, surgery “was what he was cut out for,” Shelley said, smiling. “Pun not intended.”

“It was his heart,” said another daughter, Susan Smith.

Sadler’s sunny disposition revealed itself in his upbeat approach, with him often singing and humming.

In medical school, he was part of a barbershop quartet dubbed “The Cadavers.” He frequently hummed during surgery, where he often let other surgeons operate under his close supervision.

“Even in hospice he was humming,” Susan said.

Sadler was recognized by his fellow physicians in 2006 with the Saccomanno Award as the Mesa County Medical Society’s physician of the year.

“Above all, he was a man of faith and family,” Shelley said.

Along with Roberta, Sadler is survived by five children, Mike, Pat, Susan, Dan and Shelley, and eight grandchildren.

A reception for Sadler will be hosted from 3 to 5 p.m. Wednesday at Greenwood Community Church in Greenwood.

Memorial contributions may be made to First Presbyterian Church, 3940 29 1/2 Road, Grand Junction, CO, 81506.


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