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Kristaps Juris Keggi, M.D.

In Memoriam
Kristaps Keggi, MD, Professor Emeritus and Senior Research Scientist of Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation

Kristaps Juris Keggi, M.D., (1934-2023) Professor Emeritus at the Yale University School of Medicine, Department of Orthopaedics & Rehabilitation, passed away at this home on July 4, 2023, at age 88.

His extraordinary life began in Riga, Latvia on August 9, 1934, the second of four brothers born to surgeon Jānis and Ruta Keggi. His grandfather was folklorist, teacher and pastor Ludis Bērziņš (1870–1965). During World War II, he fled with his family to Germany in 1944 and then to the United States in 1949. He started his lifetime connection with Yale just two years after arriving in the US. He matriculated in 1951 as a member of the Yale class of 1955. He continued his education at Yale Medical School, graduating in 1959, He completed his surgical internship at the Roosevelt Hospital in New York followed by Residency in Orthopaedic Surgery at Yale-New Haven Hospital that ended in 1965. From 1965 to 1966 he participated in the Vietnam War as a military surgeon, and was stationed with the 173rd Airborne as Chief of Surgery at the 3rd Mobile Army Surgical Hospital in Biên Hòa, Vietnam. In 1966, he re-joined the Yale University faculty as an Assistant Professor.

Dr. Keggi was in clinical practice from 1966 through 2016, transitioning to a community-based practice at both St. Mary's Hospital (1969-1989) and Waterbury Hospital (1969-2018). He served as the director of Waterbury Hospital’s Orthopaedic Center for Joint Reconstruction and rose to the rank of Clinical Professor at Yale in 1989. He rejoined the full-time faculty and was promoted to full professor in the Department at Yale in 2008, was named the Elihu Professor of Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation in 2010. Upon retiring from active clinical practice on December 31, 2016, he become Professor Emeritus and was appointed Senior Research Scientist as he continued to pursue an energetic program of education, mentorship, clinical research, writing, and development activities.

Since 1987, he regularly visited Latvia, where he performed demonstration operations, conducted seminars, and delivered numerous lectures both in Latvia and the surrounding Baltic Nations. In 1988, he founded the nonprofit Keggi Orthopaedic Foundation to allow for formal academic exchanges between the United States and the USSR. The organization provided fellowships in advanced orthopaedic surgery at both the Yale School of Medicine and Waterbury Hospital for more than 300 surgeons from the Baltic nations, Russia, and Vietnam. In 1990, he founded the memorial museum in honor of his grandfather Luda Bērziņš in Jūrmala, Latvia, he established the "Keggi Velo," a bike race in memory of his father, and was the founder of the Luda Bērziņš Prize.

Keggi was the first surgeon to perform total hip arthroplasty using the minimally invasive Anterior Approach in the 1970’s and published his early experiences and case series for the scientific community. He is widely considered to be the pioneer, innovator, and advocate for the anterior approach in the United States. In 2016, Dr. Keggi collaborated with Drs. Sonny Bal and Lee Rubin to publish “The Direct Anterior Approach to Hip Reconstruction,” and the second edition of this landmark reference textbook is forthcoming in April 2024. He was the recipient of multiple national and international awards and four Honorary Doctorates. These have included the Latvian Order of the Three Stars in 1993, the V Class Order of the Estonian Red Cross in 1999, the Distinguished Service Medal of the Latvian Physicians Association (the second ever awarded) in 2009 and the Silver Medal of Medical Dignity and Service to Russian Medicine in 2012. He received the George H.W. Bush Lifetime of Leadership Award from Yale University in 2005. In 1994, the Pauls Stradiņš Museum of the History of Medicine and the Latvian Academy of the Sciences awarded him the Pauls Stradiņš Prize. Keggi is an Honorary Member of the Latvian Academy of Sciences (1990) and the Russian Academy of Sciences (1993), and holds honorary degrees from the Riga Stradiņš University (1997) and the University of Latvia (2009). He also received the 2019 Humanitarian Service Award from the Connecticut Orthopaedic Society.

He is one of only two non-Russians inducted into the Russian Academy of Sciences for his prowess in medicine. Keggi spoke six languages fluently and was captain of the Yale fencing team as an undergraduate. Later on, he ran six marathons, competed in master’s rowing events, and became a passionate golfer. Over the course of his life, he nobly served many people and institutions. His work in a MASH unit in Vietnam, numerous contributions to the field of medicine in the U.S. and his native Latvia, and devotion to veterans were documented in his selfpublished 2022 memoir, "My Century: A memoir of war, peace and pioneering in the operating room.”

His life as husband, father, father-in-law, and grandfather were also extraordinary. The last few months of his life were filled with family activities and events. He attended the college graduation of his twin grandsons, Alexander and Christopher Ford from Fairfield University and the wedding of his granddaughter Julia Hunter in New Orleans. Although no longer able to play golf, he continued to enjoy his affiliations with the Country Club of Waterbury and Highfield. He was thinking about retiring but maintained that working was his lifestyle of choice. He remained an active father, grandfather, teacher, mentor, healer, and inspiration to all who were fortunate enough to know him.

Keggi was preceded in death in March 2022 by his beloved wife of 64 years, Julia Grant Quarles. The couple first met on the steps of Buckingham Palace in London during a tour of Europe in the 1950s. They were married a year later and ultimately moved to Middlebury, Connecticut in 1969, where Kris and Julie became pillars of the Middlebury Congregational Church and their broader Community. Kris and Julie are survived by their three daughters Catherine Keggi Hunter (Howard), Mara Keggi Ford (Donald), Caroline Saunders Keggi (Connie Wilson) and five grandchildren George Quarles Hunter (Caitlion), Julia Hunter Bookman (Zachary), Christopher Daly Ford, Alexander Walden Ford, and Eliza Hannah Ford.