Dr. Joseph Charles Cerny

April 20, 1930February 15, 2021

Joseph Charles Cerny April 20, 1930 - February 15, 2021 He loved his family and friends, his work and Lake Michigan. A resident of Ann Arbor for over 60 years, Joseph Charles Cerny, MD passed away peacefully at age 90 on February 15, 2021 after a lengthy illness. He was first generation born in Oak Park, Illinois to Joseph and Mary Cerny. After graduating from high school and Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois, Joe went on to attend Yale Medical School. While training for his medical degree, he became an excellent squash player, started a life long passion for running and fitness, and earned a pilot’s license. Following his graduation from Yale Medical School in 1956, Dr. Joe returned to his midwestern roots to begin his internship and residency in Urology at the University of Michigan. During his residency at the U of M, he also studied as an assistant in surgery at Peter Bent Brigham Hospital and as a fellow in Renal Transplantation at the Harvard-Brigham Hospital in Boston, returning to Michigan to complete his residency in 1962. At the start of his last year of residency, he experienced a life changing event. He observed an interesting new face in the hospital cafeteria. He made it his mission to discover that the young woman had newly arrived to teach in the hospital schools, found someone who knew her to vouch for his character and called for a date. It was the first of many dates for Joe and Patti. He proposed on a rare day off with a picnic on the Lake Michigan shore and they were married in 1962. Following the completion of his residency, Joe joined the Urology faculty at the University of Michigan, rising to Clinical Professor of Urology. While at the University of Michigan, he was actively engaged in the growing programs in the surgical treatment of adrenal and renovascular hypertension. As a young surgeon, he was the urologist on the first kidney transplant team at Michigan, and actively participated in the first 100 kidney transplants at the hospital. In 1971, Dr. Cerny started a long career at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit as Chairman of the Department of Urology and Director of the residency program. He developed an extensive practice in urological oncology, general urology, prostate disease, adrenal surgery and the urological aspects of renal transplantation. He contributed extensively to urologic literature and traveled widely to participate in presentations and seminars nationally and abroad. Believing in service to his chosen field, Dr. Cerny was involved at the state and national levels with urological and related advances in patient care. He served in many leadership roles, including the presidencies of the Michigan Urological Association, the Transplantation Society of Michigan, the Organ Procurement Agency of Michigan, the Urologic Council of the National Kidney Foundation, the Michigan College off Surgeons, the North Central Section of the America Urological Association and served on the Board of Directors for the American Urological Association nationally. He was also a charter member of the American Association of Endocrine Surgeons and the Society of Urologic Oncology. In 1996, Joe became chairman emeritus of the Department of Urology at Henry Ford Hospital. In 1999, he retired completely for two weeks. His career resumed when the U of M recalled him to become active in resident education as Clinical Professor of Urology at the medical center and Chief of Urology at the Veterans Administration Hospital. His medical odyssey had come full circle and he finally retired again and stayed retired at age 75.

When his schedule permitted, Joe continued to play squash and tennis for many years. On the squash courts, he and Reverend Terry Smith (a former Ohio State Football player) thoroughly enjoyed their epic and often bruising, battles on a regular basis - an ongoing contest for supremacy in the U of M-Ohio State hostilities. Summers found the family at their second home on Lake Michigan with bonfires on the beach, swimming, fishing, beach combing and no television. The first of several big yellow labs joined the family, which led to more running at the lake and at Gallup Park in Ann Arbor. For scores of years, running in Gallup was Joe’s refreshment from the demanding days at the hospital. He especially treasured the annual family turkey trot on Thanksgiving and the Dexter-Ann Arbor runs during the summer. He literally ran hundreds, if not thousands, of miles along the Huron River from internship through his middle seventies. Known for his love of chocolate ice cream, Joe’s family always knew who ate the entire ribbon of chocolate from a gallon of Neapolitan ice cream. He offered no apologies. Joe also loved classical music and read broadly with a particular interest in American history and the settlement of the west, especially Montana. Throughout their lives, he and Patti traveled far and wide from Tahiti to Bali and the jungles of Venezuela. The retirement years were richly fulfilling. Adored grandchildren had arrived and their Grampy delighted in showing them the splendid and leisurely joys of their surroundings on their many visits to Ann Arbor, Saugatuck and Sanibel Island during the winter. He finally was able to spend many months of the year in Saugatuck on the shores of his beloved Lake Michigan. Joseph Cerny lived a long life to be celebrated. Always a positive man, he passed on to his children and grandchildren the motto given to him by his own father: “Aim high and even if you should fall a little short, you’ve still done a good job.” Dr. Joseph Cerny was preceded in death by his parents and his brother, James Cerny. He is survived by his wife Patti (Pickens); son Dr. Joseph Cerny, Jr. (Inger) of Long Lake, MN; daughter Rebecca Dadura (James) of Wilmette, IL; five grandchildren, Nicholas and Amelia Cerny and Josh Halfman, and Madeline and James Dadura (born on his grandfather’s birthday); sister-in-law Janet Cerny; brother-in-law Michael Pickens (Sally) and nieces and nephews. Out of concern for everyone’s health and safety, a private Memorial Service for the immediate family has taken place. A Celebration of Life will be scheduled at a later date when threats to congregation ease. For those who wish, memorial contributions may be made to Arbor Hospice, 2366 Oak Valley Drive, Ann Arbor, MI 48103.


  • A Private Memorial Celebration of Life

    Saturday, February 20, 2021


Dr. Joseph Charles Cerny

have a memory or condolence to add?

Linda southwell

February 22, 2021

Tom and I enjoyed our four years in Ann Arbor with Joe. Tom admired him as a person and as a physician and fellow pilot! I enjoyed knowing you Patti as we gave birth at the same time and both our sons were in the nursery together and they also shared experiences at Albion College. We are sorry for your loss of this great man and are thinking of you. Fondly, Linda Southwell