Edward Fletcher Eyster
January 29, 1938 – June 10, 2020
Edward Eyster was born in Jacksonville, Florida to William Westley and Louise Roxanne Fletcher Eyster on January 29, 1938. Dr. Edward Fletcher Eyster, passed away in his Jupiter home on June 10, 2020.
His wife of nearly 40 years, Joy, and his canine companion, Happy, survives him. The immediate family also include daughter, Elizabeth and husband, Paolo Ferrari, daughter, Eleanore, and grandchildren Aden, Elin and Alma, brother, the Rev. Bert and wife Patty Eyster of Kentucky, and sister, Jo-Elen Eyster-Bailey, of the Atlanta area, in addition to a large family of cousins near and dear to his heart so loved and treasured.
A man of faith, he was a member of the Church of Bethesda-by-the -Sea in Palm Beach, Florida, where services are live-streamed every Sunday, due to current pandemic conditions.
Educated in Jacksonville, Fletcher later attended Davidson College in North Carolina before completing a B.A. degree from Florida State University. He received his M.D. from Tulane Medical College in New Orleans and accepted a general surgery internship at University of California in San Francisco, CA. He honorably served his country in the U.S. Navy as a flight surgeon in Key West for 3 years before return to UCSF for a residency in Neurological surgery. In 1973, Dr. Eyster was awarded a fellowship created by Dr. Hugh Fellows at the Atkinson Morley Hospital in London, England in 1973. From there, he pursued a private Neurosurgery practice in Pensacola, Florida at the West Florida Regional Medical Center Clinic, serving from 1973-1996. At West Florida Hospital, Dr. Eyster and staff of fellow physicians and nurses started an educational program for school assemblies to address the recent diving accidents in shallow rivers and lakes, during a drought season in summertime. “Feet First, First Time” was presented by the student victims of the diving accidents which left them spinal cord injured and paraplegic in some cases. With an overwhelming community and national response from local fundraisers to national television, the program evolved into the continuum with Think First - involving the importance of diving safety, helmet use for bikes and other active sports and seat belt safety with the proper use of car safety seats for children. Students also become educated about the risks of drinking and driving and how to teach others to observe safety. This program is supported by over 150 chapters all over the U.S., funded by private philanthropy in addition to the American Association of Neurological Association and the Congress of Neurological Surgeons. Think First is sponsored by many medical companies, as well as endorsement and support by General Motors.
Dr. Eyster was the Co-Director of the National Head and Spinal Cord Injury Prevention Program from 1986-1990, serving as Think First Chairman in 1994. He received numerous honors such as a lifetime achievement and humanitarian awards affiliated with the AANS, CNS, NSA, in addition to being honored by President Ronald Reagan for his private sector initiatives at the White House following his ability to help support the Florida Helmet Law , implemented by family friend and governor, Bob Graham, of the state of Florida. He had continued his service with Think First co-founder Dr. Clarke Watts., and the program is thriving with support all across the country.
In 1996, Dr. Eyster returned to Neurological surgery practice in San Francisco as Associate Professor of Clinical Neurosurgery at UCSF, went into private practice with Dr. Bruce McCormack at Pacific Medical Center. Their partnership led to the development of the incision-less carpal tunnel release procedure known as Manos. They have also developed a very successful tool for aiding in cervical spine operative procedures known as DETRAX by company name Providence Medical Technologies. Detrax is utilized in surgical suites World wide.
Dr. Eyster has served in numerous capacities as a Neurosurgeon throughout his career with authorship of papers presented in research and development, but more importantly service to the communities on the Treasure Coast has been most meaningful as a native Floridian. He and his wife started research into biofouling of marine systems, which developed into Biofouling Technologies of which he has served as creator and to present board member and advisor with the faculty at Florida Tech in Melbourne. Recently retired, Dr. Eyster has enjoyed serving as a volunteer physician at the My Clinic in Jupiter, Fl, and the Martin Hospital in Stuart, Fl. He was an expert in his career as a Neurosurgeon, surpassed only by his love of the ocean environment through years of diving, fishing, and cruising boats in the Caribbean and Bahamas, and the peaceful mountain hikes in the high country of Yosemite.
With his dedication of service to others, deep love of friends, relatives and colleagues, Fletcher Eyster will be sorely missed. Donations in honor of this dear husband, father, granddaddy, friend and colleague, will be appreciated by his family in lieu of flowers. The Church of Bethesda-by-the-Sea in Palm Beach, My Clinic in Jupiter, Martin Hospital, Palm Beach Food Bank, as well as the Think First Foundation in Napier, Illinois, reflect the service to others that meant so much to Dr. Eyster. Blessings and good wishes for a man who touched the lives of so many.
A private memorial will be announced in the future.
Edward Fletcher Eyster
February 2, 2021
I was depressed to learn of the death of a man possessed of a rare combination of intense good will, intelligence and humor.
November 12, 2020
Dr. Eyster was my neurosurgeon from 78-95 at West Florida Hospital. His skill as a neurosurgeon got me through my childhood. I have never forgotten what he did for me. I have sent him a few e-mails throughout the years to try and keep him informed of the milestones I have reached because he was afraid that the pressure on my brain stayed at high levels for too long before my hydrocephalus was found. My last milestone to update him with (in case he can read this in heaven) is I currently work for an Army Reserve Unit located at Fort Knox as a training developer after completing a training program as an Army Civilian. I also earned a PhD in Education and focused on Instructional Design and did my dissertation on the information retention that occurs through collaborative activities. You’re in my prayers, Dr. Eyster, thanks for being there.
Diana Jones Dorroh
October 11, 2020
Edward Fletcher was my first cousin, my mother's brother's son. I am just seeing this and feeling sad. I would hope to be able to attend a memorial service. I remember him most from our childhood in Jacksonville, particularly at the beach and visiting their home... I especially remember their swing set and getting swinging lessons. I met his two daughters at his parents home. Mainly, I remember the family stories about Fletcher. My mother Margaret and her sister Jo were very, very proud of him.
Muneca and Fred Rijke
September 21, 2020
Muneca and Fred Rijke formerly form Saint Helena CA. now from Clearwater, Florida, To Joy and family: With sadness we mourn Fletchers passing. The memories of dinners, cocktails , house moving ,wine train, Saturdays tennis at Meadowwood ,boating discussions,Paella night at our house ; he was the best dressed man in the room ! We waited for him to arrive from S.F.. He was received with applause and many "Ole's". Fletcher to you we raise our glasses to a life well lived . Love M&F
Stephanie V. Straeter
July 29, 2020
He was a forever friend. I thoroughly enjoyed my time spent with Fletcher. His guidance and support aided in my recovery from a hematoma. I'll always cherish all the good memories we have from boating, worshipping and dining together. Rest in peace my dear, sweet friend until we meet again.
Roy and Kelly Rose
July 6, 2020
Roy and I are so blessed to know Fletch (Dr. Eyster)! He has left a grand legacy. Our heartfelt love and prayers to Joy and family. We will remember Fletch for his genuine spirit, humble and warm soul.
We first came to know Dr. Eyster through his medical-legal consulting wherein his expertise and credentials, paired with is passion and love for his profession were widely sought after as an expert in his field. Upon Dr. Eyster joining our team, it was clear we would become forever friends. He LOVED his family, fur babies, and helping people. He was so proud of his family.
Thank you Dr. Eyster for all you gave to our team. Thank you for all the love and support you provided as a friend. Thank you Joy and family for sharing Fletch with us! He will be forever in our hearts.
Roy and Kelly Rose
June 23, 2020
What a sad surprise it was to see that my friend Fletcher has left us. The world has lost an amazing individual who left it in a far better place than it was when he arrived.
Although our friendship was limited to the time he lived in the Napa Valley, Fletcher had an enormous influence on my life. When I spoke with him there was no question he was actively listening and when he replied his wisdom and gentle humor would shine through. He epitomized the old adage that if God had wanted us to talk twice as much as he wanted us to listen, we’d have been issued two mouths and one ear.
I was recovering from heart surgery some time back. Fletcher called and asked me to join him for a day on the Delta in his Chris Craft. When I expressed my admiration for that fine classic, he said he wouldn’t dare take it to Florida because down there if your boat isn’t bigger than your house they look at you funny. After a couple of hours cruising, we stopped in at a little greasy spoon for lunch, where he ordered for both of us: Hamburgers and Cokes. I reminded him that my cardiologist had put the kibosh on that kind of diet. “All things in moderation, my boy” was his reply. Somehow, that simple gesture helped put my life back into perspective.
Fletcher did well in his career, progressing from unsuccessful Bible salesman to renowned neurosurgeon. I may not have this entirely accurate, but I think I recall that one man who influenced his decision to pursue medical school was his uncle, Ferrol Sams. When I read a couple of the books Mr. Sams authored it wasn’t hard to imagine it was Fletcher talking.
My wife, Barbara and I thought the world of Fletcher. Like all who knew him, we will hold onto many fond memories. Shortly before he and Joy left the Napa Valley for Florida I told him how much our friendship had meant to me and what a positive and helpful influence he had been on my life. I’m glad he knew how much affection and respect I had for this kind and gentle man.
June 22, 2020
I am so very sorry for your loss. My thoughts and prayers are with you all. I worked with Dr Eyster at West Florida Hospital, starting in 1985, in the Neuro Intermediate Unit, just out of nursing school. Under his direction, this unit also became a Neuro Intensive Care Unit, caring for Neurosurgical surgeries, such as brain surgeries and complicated spine surgeries.
He was such a wonderful man and doctor. I thought for years that he didn’t even know my name, and was so ecstatic when he actually called me Sandy, one day.
I remember one specific incident where there was a patient that the doctors said had “locked in syndrome”. (She might actually know what was happening, but could in no way respond). We nurses were with her 8 hrs of the day, and knew she was responding. The neurosurgeons, Neuro radiologists and those involved in the Neuro patients would have a meeting every Monday morning to discuss the complicated patients. It got back to the nurses, that the doctors were saying, “the nurses say she is responding, but no way”. So one day, Dr. Eyster made rounds, and my head nurse said, “show Dr. Eyster how she responds”. So, I asked her a couple of things that she responded to that could have been reflexes. Then Dr. Eyster said, “hold up one finger”. And, she did, the middle finger at that.
June 20, 2020
Our father’s departure will leave many with the question: “Who do I call now?” A renowned neurosurgeon, Dad was the expert everyone (fellow doctors, lawyers, family members, neighbors and the stranger seated next to you on a plane) would turn to for a second opinion. His true ministry was that of the “family doctor”, always patient, always available, and always determined to find the cure. His advice was never strictly clinical. It was peppered with philosophy and wisdom and delivered without bias or judgement in his calm and soothing manner. Dad had two passions in life: neurosurgery and boating. At first, those two passions would seem at odds with one another. A few hours with Dad on a boat, however, would help you to understand the uncanny similarities between the two. A boat’s engine room was Dad’s operating room (with the advantage of a sunset and cocktail awaiting him at the end of every “procedure”), and where he spent most of his time repairing marvelous, complex machinery. In fact, the boats he owned over the years became progressively more sophisticated, not for their smooth ride as much as for their elaborate engines.
June 20, 2020
Our father was a celebrated medical professional. And while he saved many lives, his most notable legacy was to those who, thankfully, he never had a reason to meet. He believed fervently in prevention as the best treatment he could offer. So he dedicated himself tirelessly to preventing head and spinal cord injuries. Seatbelts and bike helmets seem commonplace today, and we have Dad to thank for his part in that. And he was not a chiropractor, by the way (he made sure everyone knew that). Our father lived coast to coast. He and his wife Joy decided to retire in Florida after two glorious decades in California — where they lived among redwoods, vineyards and the cool mists of the Pacific Ocean. Dad was himself a Floridian, and had the sun swept look and weathered boat shoes to prove it. He was proud of his Florida family heritage, and with good reason. I will always remember the story of our grandfather William Wesley Eyster being struck by “love at first sight” upon meeting my grandmother Louise (née Fletcher) — the two married only a few months later and spent a full life. Dad’s sister, Aunt JoEllen, is a painter who trained with the Masters in Paris. Her paintings — with their Rembrandt glow — adorned the walls of our childhood. Dad’s brother, Uncle Bert, is a Reverend and stand-up comedian who officiated my wedding in the California Redwoods. Our cousins — and there are many of them — are an impressive assembly of lawyers, doctors, judges, farmers, boaters, beachcombers and equestrians. Of course our father was proud of such roots.
June 20, 2020
Dad was a wise and brilliant man of few words – and those few words were always insightful and honest. He was a mystical mix of Charlie Brown and the Dali Lama, Bob Newhart and Jacques Cousteau. He rarely interrupted or interjected himself into a conversation, and when it was his turn to speak, he would often provide the long awaited answer -- to the bewilderment and delight of those in his company. We, the children he leaves behind, (Eleanore and Elizabeth) were encouraged by our father to dream big (despite failing all of his math quizzes on the ride to school) and to find our bliss. Being women was not a hindrance, he said, it was a force, as he saw in his own mother. As mothers now ourselves, we continue on this path, forever guided by Dad’s philosophy. Our hope is that our children (Aden and Elin, and Alma) will inherit our father’s devotion to caring for others and going out on a limb with their own inventions. Dad was a healer, in touch with his own feelings and deeply connected to his spirituality. He was in awe with the astounding beauty of this world. He would let his tears flow and his happiness show while admiring a mountain afterglow, holding his grandchild for the first time or listening to Handle’s Messiah. Dad kept his car radio tuned to the eclectic mix of the classics, NPR and new age relaxation music. With his splendid and open mind and his commitment never to judge, he found company in books (an endless supply of them), family and faith. That spirituality ultimately gave him strength not to fear death and to accept it because it offered passage to Heaven, Nirvana, Shangri-La. A place of peace, where there is no injustice and where there is an abundance of love available to all, without discrimination or entitlement. And in that place — the afterlife where Dad finds himself now — we will continue to call on him for a second opinion, wisdom and guidance, and a belief that all suffering comes to an end in grace.
June 19, 2020
(More) Sharing some of my thoughts with you who read this has been good. I hope they lead you to understand what a wonderful man Edward Fletcher Eyster was. By myself and with family and friends, even his dear 88 year old scrub nurse and dear friend Alice Blunt, I can hardly talk. Who wants to talk with a blubbering brother in full denial? This grief reaches out and grabs me. Someday, when I can brag about him again, I hope to participate with those who need to express themselves publicly. He deserves no less.
June 19, 2020
comes into my room wearing a white coat. With no introduction he said, 'You need surgery.' Not knowing who I was talking to, I said, 'suppose I don't want to have surgery?' He just shrugged and said, 'well then, you'll die.' " Every doctor dreams of being honest with the most non-compliant patients. Fletcher was honest but his patients will tell you he empathized and showed very honest care.
In fact, those of us who play a musical instrument or work at thousands of jobs that demand strong wrists can pay 90% less to have our carpal tunnel issues fixed non surgically with the procedure Fletcher invented. Both procedures referenced in his obituary are accomplished because he cared so much about people.
Brothers fight. We did, too. But Dad gave us an eraser: forgiveness. Our last few years have been spent reading the same books, discussing our doubts, and combining concepts we never imagined could be joined. Great philosophy consumed us; we appreciated empirical evidence; but we accepted the faith that goes beyond reason. He knew Dr. Eban Alexander and believed him. We have read his book and we believe in Proof of Heaven, A Neurosurgeon's Journey into the Afterlife. Both of us love the symbols of that faith, the example of that faith, the beauty we have found in our local churches. Neither of us leave our brains at the church door but we are overjoyed by the beauty of a stained glass window, the profundity of a well played pipe organ, the intimacy of the altar or table, or the exhilaration of the inspired word.
Neither of us attend out of obligation, we need it. Neither of us give sacrificially because others need it. We do so because we get a kick out of it. While I don't expect to see God's face or predict his ways, I know that God is continuing to get a kick out of us, his children. Do you suppose that Fletcher will continue to tell the hosts of Heaven, "Don't call me doctor; folks will think I'm a chiropractor."
June 19, 2020
MY LITTLE BROTHER
It was a love drenched in respect and pride. Our parents were completely loving and incredible role models. They knew that Dr. Albert Einstein was correct when he explained that we begin to live only when we get beyond ourselves. All three of us, JoElen, Fletcher, and I were children of their covenant with God. From the time we were baptized at the South Jacksonville Presbyterian Church, they helped us live into our baptisms.
I am as guilty as our parents were for boring friends bragging on my little brother and sister. Mother was want to repeat the lady in Pensacola who said, "Ms Louise, you really got it made. You got a doctor son, a preacher son and a girl who paints pretty pictures."
Dad and mother loved us unconditionally. Maybe that's why we excelled their highest expectations for us. Jo's painting of Chief "McIntosh" was endorsed by the Cherokee Nation and hangs in Georgia's Capital in Atlanta. Fletcher's distinguished career stretched from Florida, to California to our nation's capital. In my retirement I look back over the lives that were enriched or saved in the five states where Patty and I served churches or the five counties I served as Health Department Director.
Those of you who spent time with him got a glimpse of Fletcher's sweet spirit. He personalized the admonition, "be still and know." When he relaxed with family and friends, he was warm and spontaneous. When he prepared to serve and as he served others as a skilled and highly innovative surgeon, committee member, or community leader he lived the creed, "do no harm." Even as an enlightened leader, he did so with patience and humility.
His patients will tell you that his advice was always wise. He was quite direct. My mother recognized one at a gas station by the white head turban he wore. He noticed the name on her credit card. When she admitted to being Dr. Eyster's mother he told her his story. "There I was lying on my hospital bed when this guy c
June 19, 2020
Enjoyed so many good times sailing. Flétcher was a good friend and an accomplished neurosurgeon. Condolences to Joy and family. He will be missed!
June 17, 2020
A bigger than life man who knew how to live well and share the life he lived.....his standards were high but he knew when to relax them..his eagerness to laugh and dry wit balanced his seriousness...we spent many happy hours with him in many different beautiful places..he seemed most himself when sailing...the most endearing aspect of dear Fletcher was the way he loved his people...heartfelt condolences to Joy,Elizabeth,and Eleanor ...he will be missed by so many of us....for a very long time
June 17, 2020
I had the great privilege of working with him for many years. He was a gifted surgeon who I was proud to call my friend. He had a razor sharp wit with a wicked sense of humor. We shared some great laughs. He could hide it well but had such a tender heart. When my first daughter died he wrote me a condolence letter that remains a treasure. I will always miss him.
June 17, 2020
So many memories and good times! Fletcher was a loyal friend and great father! I hope you are having even more fun in heaven ! To Joy , Eleanor, and Elizabeth, i know you will miss him, stay strong and remember him for all the wonderful times💕
June 16, 2020
In memory of my brother in law, Fletcher Eyster. A man who treated my sister with much love and respect. What more could a brother in law ask for? Well there is much more.......
A man who opened his home to a young boy and showed him a different part of the outdoors. One who did not hesitate to let a 12 year old boy take the steering wheel of his prized sailboats and Whalers. He did it for a reason, he loved me and wanted to help me become a young man. I will never forget when at 17, he gave me the keys to the center console Whaler, and said “Go have fun”. I was shocked but so appreciative. After I started college, Fletcher loaned me his convertible multiple times to drive 4 hours away to see my girlfriend at college, who is now my wife of 27 years. He knew I loved and missed her.
A generous man with a generous heart. A wise man who spoke gently and not often. But when he spoke, I listened because I knew those words had meaning. I am so sad that he is temporarily gone but when my time comes, I think God will give Fletcher the keys to His golden yacht and instruct Fletcher to pick me up and “Go have fun”.
Joy, Eleanor, and Elizabeth: I love you all so very much. I am so sorry and I am praying for all of you. Thanks for sharing your husband and Dad with me. What a fine man who I love and appreciate so very much.
June 16, 2020
I remember he and Joy's visits to Beau's house .Talks about wine. That was the reason I wanted to be a part of Wino's . This Is the hardest part of life as our peers go to the slopes and vineyards in the Great Beyond. Fletcher , keep pushing hard for that last run and Drink Plenty of DRC for us. My condolences to family
June 15, 2020
WINOS , especially black tie night at Jamie's and Joy's birthday surprise; Powder Pounders; Napa, a bottle of Sorry Dog Cab; Flether's idea of buying and sharing 2 tons of grapes and having a barrel of Cab and one of Pinot made ...22 cases from each! The Christmas flag with a gold JOY inscribed thereon.....will miss his dry wit......
June 15, 2020
We remember High Point Drive, Yosemite, Shell island, ski mobile rides and many more cherished moments with Fletcher, Joy and his wonderful family.