Dale Michael Geiss, MD

April 6, 1944June 11, 2021

Teacher, Mentor, Physician, Friend

It was a bitterly cold and snowy Spring day in Mandan, North Dakota. Lawrence and Clara Geiss were on their way to the hospital to deliver their second son, Dale. But Dale couldn’t wait. As the family story goes, he was born on the front seat of a model T Ford.

Life was never easy for the Geiss family. Mom and Dad each came from farm families of eleven children. They set out to farm for themselves, but drought stole that dream. In a home- built trailer (not an RV!) they headed for Fargo, camping along the river bank. After finding jobs, they bought a bare bones house. No running water, no toilet, no bath. Dale and his brother had to lug buckets down the street, to buy water from a neighbor.

Dale proved to be an excellent student and was chosen to enter the Catholic seminary at the age of 14. At St John’s he finished high school and two years of college.

Fast forward: A degree from the North Dakota State University, then graduate work in Neuropsychology. To support his family, he sold smoke detectors door to door, with many slammed in his face.

Medical school became the new mission, but it required courses at three different Chicago universities to earn the right credits. He received his MD from Baylor University in Texas, and thought he’d return home and simply become a country doctor.

Instead he completed surgical residencies in California, Wisconsin, and Toronto. It took eight grueling years but he became proficient in both adult and pediatric cardiac surgery. Settling in Peoria, Illinois, he soon established a reputation for superior skills and immense compassion. He founded the Children’s Heart Institute in l980 ; Until then little patients were sent to Chicago or St Louis. Many “firsts” were accomplished such as pediatric mitral valve repair and the Norwood procedure. Patients and their families were grateful to find such lifesaving procedures close to home.

Dale spent most of his surgical career at OSF St Francis in Peoria; later, he helped revive struggling programs in the Quad Cities and Champaign Urbana. Ultimately he would complete 12000 surgeries over his lifetime . After a cancer diagnosis in 2018 he continued working through radiation, chemotherapy and several surgeries. The end came just after midnight on June 11. He was comforted by his wife, Pam, his daughter Kristin and Angie Brown his devoted nurse.

What did he do for enjoyment? Coworkers claim he could make it fun to be in the OR. If he could get away, he’d fly his twin engine Aerostar, a complex and difficult plane to master. He loved watching sports, football especially. And caring for stray cats, who seemed to know where to turn for love, warmth and vet care.

His family includes Pam, Kristin and Pam’s daughter Amy. Kristin is married to Michael Curran and has four grown children and three grandkids. Amy and her husband Bill have twin teenage boys.

His medical family includes hundreds of doctors and nurses he helped to become superior professionals. There has been an outpouring for love from so many who knew him as a caring compassionate but demanding physician who expected--and received--the best from everyone and most importantly, for his patients.

Donations may be directed to the Dale Michael Geiss Cardiac Surgery Educational Foundation at 1624 NE Glen Oak Avenue, Peoria IL 61603. A funeral mass is planned for family only; a celebration of life will take place later this summer.


  • Dale Michael Geiss Cardiac Surgery Educational Foundation


  • A funeral mass is planned for family only; a celebration of life will take place later this summer.


Dale Michael Geiss, MD

have a memory or condolence to add?

Kate Hewerdine

July 24, 2021

I am sorry to hear of his passing. I heard the story from my amazing parents this week how Dale Geiss saved my life and has allowed me to live the last almost 32 years. I now have a full understanding of the battle wounds I have from Dale Geiss saving my life. My father told me when he met Dr Geiss in the hallway at the hospital my father asked if he started the surgery on me and he told my father it’s all done and she’s doing fine. My parents told me we went to a reunion when I was 3 years old in Peoria. We would all love to pay respects to a man who allowed me to thrive and have a wonderful life.

Edward Ziniel

July 9, 2021

I am a cousin of Dale’s, his mother and my dad Edward were brother and sister, when we were kids we our folks visited each other . As time went on we saw less and less of our relatives. I never realized Dale’s accomplishments. Sounds like he was a great man, sad how time flies, and we never get to see our relatives, my condolences to Dale’s family. I heard about his passing through relatives. Thank you Ed

Ahmad Shihabi

July 6, 2021

I met Dale a few years ago; we shared adjacent offices, we discussed patients, treatment plans and goals of care. Over a very short period of time we became friends. I had the utmost respect for his professionalism, dedication and integrity. He harkened back to an era when men where giants, who kept their word , meant what they said and acted on principle . He was a master clinician and a good human. May you Rest In Peace my friend.

Kelly Lee

July 3, 2021

MY mother was told by her heart doc 21 years ago that there was nothing that could be done for her she had maybe 3 years to live until Dr. Geiss looked at my mothers chart he said he could do the surgery. He saved her life. she then had problems again 15 years layer and Dr. GEISS was no longer in Peoria but I found him in Iowa and took mom to him he then did a taver surgery and saved her again. I thank God for Dr. Geiss if it wasent for him we would have lost her long ago. This was a VERY DEDICATED BRILLIANT DOCTOR

Patricia Ricca

June 29, 2021

In 2009 Dr. Geiss performed a quintuple bypass on my husband after his heart attach. I spent the night in ICU with him dozing off and on because the staff was in and out of the room. Every time I would look up throughout the night, Dr. Geiss was standing there. I remember asking the nurse if he ever went home and she said that he stayed until he felt comfortable leaving. His presence was such a comfort to me and he not only gave the best care but took the time to explain what he had done and what he intended to do.
This area has lost a wonderful doctor and my prayers go out to his family. I hope they find some comfort knowing that he was such a great man.

Beth F. McCormack

June 29, 2021

Our family is eternally grateful for Dr Geiss who gave us 19 years with our beautiful Megan. Much love to his family as we grieve the loss of the most remarkable human.

Jeannie Overcash

June 26, 2021

My husband Daniel Overcash & I will forever be grateful for the healing hands of this amazing man Dr. Dale Geiss , In 2008 , Daniel was saved not once but twice during open heart surgery . We doubt Daniel would have survived had it not been for the expertise of Dr. Geiss & his dedicated medical team .
Our hearts are saddened for his passing & we will be keeping his
family & love ones in our prayers , God Bless all of you , Daniel & Jeannie Overcash

Kimberly Christenson

June 26, 2021

I just want to say this man was my husbands guardian angel. He saved my husbands life thru his expert surgical skills. He will be remembered always.

Karen Buss

June 24, 2021

As a RN at OSF I know Dr Geiss expected the best care for his patients. And as a daughter and a mom, I know my mom(who he replaced her aortic valve) & my daughter (who he corrected her ASD) got the best care. As hard as it is to hand your 15 month old over to have open heart surgery I knew she was in the best hands! My brother ( who lives in Co) wanted us to research Dr Geiss prior to my mom’s surgery. I assured him that it was not necessary as she had the BEST! RIP Dr Geiss. So many lives you touched and saved

Rita Pavlacic

June 23, 2021

I have to look at Dr. Geiss in an entirely different way than most who are posting memories. He and I had a very different relationship. I worked in the lab, and he provided lab orders for his patients. I was often called in after hours to do a rather lengthy test he insisted he needed "now." I didn't know him, but I knew "of him" because of his exacting standards for his patients.

As I said, I did not know him, but guess who was invited and who showed up at my retirement party! What a kind gesture. I was so touched!

My sympathy goes to all of you he loved and who loved him.I'm sure he cared about you as he did his patients. He will be missed.