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Published: Monday, 1/31/2005

Doctor was city's 1st heart surgeon

Wallace Arnold McAlpine, who performed the first heart surgery in Toledo and published an award-winning book on the anatomy of the heart and coronary arteries, died Friday of heart failure at Baptist Medical Center Beaches in Jacksonville Beach, Fla. He was 84.

Dr. McAlpine practiced here from 1951 to 1983, performing the first heart surgery at Toledo Hospital in 1952 to correct a congenital heart defect. His wife, Shirley, said that first surgery was scary. "You didn't know how things were going to go," she said.

Dr. McAlpine was drawn to cardiac surgery when, as a resident physician in London, he filled in at a heart hospital.

"He just became enchanted with it," his wife said.

His daughter, Leigh Beckendorf, said she believes her father "thought it was interesting because it was a new field."

Dr. McAlpine, a recreational photographer, spent 12 years taking photos of the heart and arteries and writing the book Heart and Coronary Arteries, An Anatomical Atlas for Clinical Diagnosis, Radiological Investigation, and Surgical Treatment. Published in 1975, it won a gold medal at the International Book Festival in Leipzig, Germany.

He was in practice with Dr. Morris W. Selman and later, Dr. Hugh M. Foster, until Dr. Selman died in 1981. In 1983, Dr. McAlpine retired to Florida.

Dr. McAlpine received his medical degree from the University of Manitoba in 1943. He served as a major in the medical corps of the Canadian Army during World War II, then studied thoracic and cardiovascular surgery at the University of London, in Stockholm, and at the University of Michigan.

Surviving are his wife, the former Kathleen Shirley Cruickshank, whom he married in 1944; daughters, Kim Renteria, Leigh Beckendorf, and Laurel Flowers; son, Fraser; sister, Ruth Teague, and 11 grandchildren.

Services are private. Quinn-Shalz Funeral Home in Jacksonville Beach handled arrangements. The family suggests tributes to the University of North Florida or Ponte Vedra Beach libraries.

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