James William LaFave, M.D. James William LaFave (Jim) was born in Morris, Minnesota to Edward Joseph LaFave and Helena Huesgen LaFave. He attended Morris High School, the University of Minnesota, and the University of Minnesota Medical School, graduating in 1956. After interning at Philadelphia General Hospital, he began his surgical residency at the University of Michigan and continued in the University of Minnesota program at Ancker Hospital in St. Paul, MN. At Ancker, under the tutelage of Dr. John Perry, Jim founded the first burn unit in the Upper Midwest, the predecessor of the Burn Unit at Regions Hospital.
Jim served as a captain in the U.S. Air Force, stationed at Sewart Air Force Base in Smyrna, TN, for two years. After his residency, he practiced general surgery for over thirty years in various St. Paul hospitals with his partners in St. Paul Surgeons, LTD. He was a member, and one year the president, of the Ramsey County Surgical Society. He was a charter member of the American Burn Society.
He also belonged to the Central Surgical Society and the Western Surgical Society.
In 1953, Jim married Lissette Gail Oliver of Graceville, MN. Thus began a wonderful marriage filled with love, respect, humor, admiration and friendship between Gail and Jim that lasted almost 70 years. Together, they raised four wonderful and much-loved children, followed by 10 grandchildren and 5 great grandchildren, all of whom Jim cherished. Gail made sure that Jim always ate well and more particularly that he was at all times well-stocked with her homemade raspberry jam for his toast every morning.
Jim was always an avid reader of periodicals and countless books, many of which focused on the Civil War. He loved flyfishing, grouse hunting, horse racing and relaxing at the family’s place on the St. Croix River. He spent happy times with friends and often family at Canterbury Downs, Saratoga, Santa Anita, and Gulf Stream Park. He and Gail regularly attended and supported the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Schubert Club and the Minnesota Opera. Pre-Covid, Jim and Gail walked to Sunday Mass at Assumption and then stopped into Meritage for brunch at their special table.
Predeceased by daughter Anne Elizabeth, brother Edward and sister Claire Hutton. His survivors include his wife, Gail, sons James E. (Mary), John I. (Madelyn), and Michael H. (Laura), grandchildren Helena (E.R), Peter (Adrienne), Andrew (Carrie), Mary, James, Margaret, Charlie Mitchell, Desmond, Gustin, and Adelaide, plus many beloved nephews and nieces in a close family.
The family would like to thank Our Lady of Peace Hospice for the exceptional and compassionate care they provided to Jim.
Memorial donations may be made to the Regions Hospital Burn Center, Regions Hospital Foundation, 640 Jackson St Stop 11202C, Saint Paul, MN 55101 https://www. healthpartners.com/foundations/regions/give-now/ or to a charity of your choice.
Mass of Christian burial was held at the Church of the Assumption, 51 West Seventh St., St. Paul, MN on Monday, May 1.