Brother Denton Cooley joined the Chapter Celestial on November 18, 2016.  
Initiated in 1938, Brother Cooley would go on to become the 1964 Kappa Sigma Man of The Year, making him the third of six members from the Tau Chapter at the University of Texas to do so.   

He is the third Kappa Sigma Man of the Year the Tau Chapter has lost this past year. 

Brother Cooley was a three year letterman on the Longhorn basketball team and member of the Texas Cowboys when he was in school. After graduating in 1941, he briefly attended the Texas College of Medicine in Galveston before transferring to Johns Hopkins, where he obtained his medical degree in 1944. During that same year Brother Cooley had been taken under the wing of Dr. Albert Blalock, a noted heart surgeon, who permitted him to assist in the first surgery to correct the congenital heart defect of a “blue baby”. That experience inspired him to make heart surgery his specialty.

After a short stint in the Army, Brother Cooley returned to finish his residency in 1948 before moving to London to study under Dr. Russell Brock – who perfected techniques for operating on heart valves ravaged by disease. This would lead him to return to Houston in the 1950s where he would distinguish himself as the best surgeon in the world. During his career he founded  The Texas Heart Institute where he also surgeon in-chief, he was chief of Cardiovascular Surgery at St. Luke’s Episcopal Hospital, consultant in Cardiovascular Surgery at Texas Children’s Hospital, and a clinical professor of Surgery at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. Brother Cooley performed the first successful open heart transplant in the U.S. and was also the first doctor to implant a totally artificial heart.

He was a pioneer and a visionary. His work on developing new artificial heart valves from 1962 to 1967 caused the mortality rate for heart valve transplants to fall from 70% to 8%. His team conducted more than 100,000 open-heart surgeries over the course of four decades. He was awarded the Medal of Freedom by President Ronald Reagan, The National Medal of Technology, and the Rene Leriche Prize – the highest honor of the International Surgical Society.

He was a man whose life afforded an example which some may equal, but none excel. Kappa Sigma would like to take this moment to reflect on Brother Cooley’s life and extend our condolences to his family.