Dr. Joseph Edward Kutz

June 11, 1928October 10, 2020
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Joseph E. Kutz, MD, 92. The world lost an icon when Dr. Joseph E. Kutz left us on Saturday, October 10, 2020. Dr. Kutz was born on June 11, 1928 to Joseph M & Hazel Kutz in Standish Michigan. He specialized in surgery of the hand and reconstructive microsurgery from 1964 until his retirement at the age of 87. He was a co-founder of Kleinert Kutz Hand Care Center and performed the nation’s first successful hand transplant in 1999. Many people all over the world benefitted from his expertise. It was not a job to Dr. Kutz, it was his passion.

Dr. Kutz was a member of numerous medical societies including the American Society for Surgery of the Hand, the American College of Surgeons, and the American Medical Association. He was also instrumental in forming the American Society for Reconstructive Microsurgery, and the International Society for Reconstructive Microsurgery. He is a past president of the Jefferson County Medical Society, and served four terms as President of the Medical Foundation of the Medical Society. He was a past president of the medical staffs of Jewish Hospital and Frazier Rehab Center.

Despite a busy medical career Dr. Kutz developed a vital interest in community affairs. He was a member of the 1983-1984 class of Leadership Louisville; Board Chair of Leadership Louisville Foundation (1991 & 1992); participant in the 1987 class of Leadership Kentucky, and was involved in The Rotary Club of Louisville as program chair and President (1991-1992). He also served on the boards of dePaul School, Greater Louisville Inc. and Spalding University.

During his career he received many awards & honors including Partners in Health as “one of the most influential health care business leaders in Greater Louisville” by Business First (2006); Roger Fox Award from Kosair Charities (2005) for recognition of his work with children; the Volunteers of America of Kentucky Award for Community Service and the Ephraim McDowell Physician of the Year Award. But what alluded him was being an owner of a Derby winner!

Dr. Kutz was a loving husband, father, Poppy, mentor, friend, brilliant surgeon and avid horseman. Preceding him in death were his parents, sister Madge, brother Leonard and his beloved wife of 61 years – Mary Jane. Left to cherish his memory and legacy are his children Tony (Heidi), Karen (Phillip Duncan), Brad (Rebecca); grandchildren Jamie, Joey (Courtney), Whitney, Cortney, Ryan & Michael (Lauren), 4 great grandchildren; his sisters Victoria Winquest (MI) and Eileen Dobrowolski (CA) and numerous nieces and nephews, his assistant of 40 years – Ann Ratterman, as well as the patients he helped throughout his career.

Visitation will be Wednesday, October 14, 2020 from 2:00 pm – 7:00 pm at Arch L. Heady Resthaven, 4400 Bardstown Road, Louisville, KY. Funeral service will be in the Chapel at Resthaven on Thursday, October 15, 2020 at 10:00 am, with entombment to follow at Resthaven Memorial Park. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that you consider a contribution in honor of Dr. Kutz to Hosparus Health of Louisville, 3532 Ephraim McDowell Drive, Louisville, KY 40205; Kosair Charities, 982 Eastern Parkway, Louisville, KY 40207 or the Ronald McDonald House, 550 South First Street, Louisville, KY 40202.


  • Visitation

    Wednesday, October 14, 2020

  • Funeral Service

    Thursday, October 15, 2020


Dr. Joseph Edward Kutz

have a memory or condolence to add?

Mickie Abbott

October 16, 2020

I worked in the Operating Room at Jewish Hospital in the early 1970’s as a Registered Nurse before going to work for Drs. Kleinert and Kutz in their office.
We were a big family, we all worked hard and loved what we were doing. Dr. Kutz was always a gentle caring physician and friend.

David Fogarty

October 16, 2020

My condolences. I was a hand fellow, over 40 years ago, and have fond memories of Dr. Kutz. While I was in Louisville, my wife was in Honduras for 6 months adopting a child. During this time frame, I was raising three children; ages 14, 12, and 10, and also putting in over 80 hours a week at the hospital. This was a taxing period. The Kutz family took one of my sons into their home raising him for three months. For this, I am forever grateful to Dr. Kutz; a kind, caring, and man living out his mantra of loving your fellow man. Thanks, Joe, I love you. Dave Fogarty

Mohammad E.Majd

October 14, 2020

It is a sad day for all of us in the medical fields and especially in the field of neck and upper extremities.
We lost a giant mentor, teacher and father.
I remembered Dr Kutz at the time of my fellowship from 1995-1996 at J town office with his black Porsche and all the time he was buying lunch for the fellows and he had a good understanding of pathology of peripheral nerve, he would be missed

Mary Spalding

October 13, 2020

Dr. Joseph Kutz died yesterday and it surely has brought back a flood of memories for me. We met roughly 35 years ago when my rheumatoid arthritis was diagnosed. Unbelievably, he performed literally dozens of hand and foot surgeries for me. Many gave me improved function or pain management but many were cutting edge experiments with mixed results. We shared the belief that it “was worth trying” when his best science pointed toward optimistic results. He also was learning and refining and exploring just what was possible. I was fascinated by his brilliance and he kindly explained every step of the way.
I looked forward to our conversations, which occasionally became arguments, because they ranged from medicine and disease versus accidents to our respective world views and politics. He was incredibly versatile in his interests: horses, football, farming, civic life….and seemed genuinely interested in mine. He remarked once about “corn-picker and lawnmower seasons” and the tragedy of one moment’s carelessness. Still, he was so challenged by figuring out how to “repair the unrepairable” that he never flinched from the grisliest accident. Just to sit in his waiting room and view the miracles he wrought was almost like a religious experience.
He was a teacher, accompanied on his rounds by a new trainee from all points on the globe who began each visit with a patient and then had to explain their concerns to him. He then patiently confirmed or corrected their perceptions/diagnosis and usually did the actual procedure. He may not have been an easy taskmaster, perhaps eventually a bit of a prima donna, but most deserving of his elevated status. He never left me with an unanswered question, or without his signature gentle holding of my hands and his million dollar smile.
When last I saw him, I gave him some apple butter and asked if he was going to ever retire. He said that when I saw his obit in the CJ I would know that he had retired. That was not the case. RIP


October 13, 2020

Dear Kutz family,

Our family thanks you for sharing your precious father/grandfather/great grandfather with us. Our prayers are with you this week as you say goodbye.

Cathy and Ronnie Thurman

Laquita Blair

October 13, 2020

I worked for the Kleinert Kutz team for almost 42 years. Dr Kutz showed his care for every employee regardless of the department they worked in. I had great respect for this great man

Marikay Murphy

October 12, 2020

It is with much emotion I share this note. Working with and knowing Dr. Kutz was an honor and privilege. Not only a gifted surgeon but a beautiful person who genuinely cared for each and every patient in his care! No day was too long. No person insignificant. So many good memories of our time together in the OR at Jewish Hospital. My deepest sympathy to his family. Marikay Murphy, Janesville, California

Vincent Kemp

October 12, 2020

Dr Kutz did surgery on both my hands when I was 11 out look was grim but he did what he could . 43 years later I use my hands due to his great skill . I’m a mechanic so my hand are my living so I give thanks to him and prayers to his family thank your sir for your years of helping people

Terry Giles

October 12, 2020

My thoughts are with all of you. Savor your memories and keep him alive in your heart. Hugs to all.

Mary Schmidt

October 12, 2020

I was lucky to be a member of the hand team at Jewish for thirty years plus!
It was an honor to work with Dr. Kutz and all the other fine,dedicated surgeons!!
They don’t make them like that anymore!!
He gave his all and my he rest in God’s loving arms!


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