George Zuidema, M.D.
George Zuidema, M.D., former U-M executive vice provost for medical affairs, died on July 6 at the age of 92. Born in Holland, Michigan, he graduated from Holland High School and Hope College. After medical school at Johns Hopkins University, Zuidema married Joan Houtman in 1953 and began surgical training at Massachusetts General Hospital.
He served for two years in the U.S. Air Force at the Aerospace Medicine Department at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. His work on gravitational stress was later used in NASA’s Apollo program, and he was in Mission Control in Houston as astronauts took the first steps on the moon.
Zuidema served as director of the Section of Surgical Sciences at Johns Hopkins for 20 years and held a number of prestigious teaching, writing, and leadership roles with the American Board of Surgery. He was a founding member of the Association of Academic Surgery and served as its president in 1968.
Zuidema’s tenure as the U-M executive vice provost for medical affairs (1984-1994) was the first as leader of an integrated health system. He oversaw the establishment of cancer and geriatric centers, many outpatient clinics, M-Care, and a marked expansion of research facilities.
Zuidema and his wife raised four children and took them on many adventures, including a three-year stint in Beirut, where Zuidema was an exchange professor at the American University of Beirut. The couple spent their later years in Holland, where Zuidema was active in his church, worked with various nonprofit organizations, and served on the Hope College Board of Trustees.