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1936 - 2023

Joaquin Aldrete, M.D. (S ’67)

March 2, 1936-May 4, 2023

Joaquin Salcedo Aldrete was born on March 2, 1936 in Mexico City and died on May 4, 2023 in Rochester, MN. His parents, Carmen and Joaquin Aldrete, owned a travel agency. In his teens, Joaquin worked there as a guide and this is how he met his future wife, Melinda Luz Santoyo, since, although she was from Los Angeles, her family vacationed in Mexico. Their relationship developed when she spent a semester abroad in Mexico City in 1956. From an early age, Joaquin had aspired to be a doctor, and after attending the Central University of Mexico, he went to medical school at the School of Medicine of the National University of Mexico, earning his degree in 1959. He did six months of public service as the doctor for the small, isolated jungle town of Palizada, where he tended the indigenous peoples and a team of engineers searching for oil. He and Melinda were married in 1960 and he did his medical internship in Rochester, NY. The couple then moved to Rochester, MN where he did his medical residency at the Mayo Clinic, specializing in gastrointestinal surgery. In 1964 Joaquin became a U.S. citizen, and in 1966, his son, Gregory, was born. Upon completing his residency, he was drafted into the U.S. Army and spent two years at Ft. Gordon, GA as an army surgeon, operating on soldiers injured in Viet Nam. He was discharged in 1969 with the rank of Captain, and took a job as an Assistant Professor of Surgery at the School of Medicine of the University of Alabama in Birmingham. He was particularly active in organ transplantation, performing hundreds of kidney transplants and initiating a liver transplantation program, including performing the first 20 done in the southeast. He set up a program to bring promising young doctors from Mexico and Columbia to spend a year at UAB, learning the latest techniques, then return home to apply their knowledge. He was an active researcher and prolific publisher, authoring several hundred scientific articles. He worked at UAB for 30 years, rising to the rank of Professor and Vice Chairman of the Department of Surgery. He retired in 2000, and he and Melinda moved to Carlsbad, California within sight of the ocean. In 2013, they returned to Rochester, MN, residing at Charter House, a retirement facility run by the Mayo Clinic. In retirement Joaquin was able to indulge a lifelong love of music, particularly of traditional Mexican tunes from the 1940’s and 1950’s. He delighted in collecting these songs and making compilations, which he would give to friends. Joaquin died at the age of 87, after 63 years of marriage to Melinda. He passed away in St. Mary’s hospital, the very same one where, half a century earlier, he had done his residency and his son had been born. He is survived by his brother Antonio; his son Gregory, his son’s wife Alicia; and Melinda.

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