Jack was born to Ralph C. “RC” Hastings, M.D. and Helen Hastings (née Schmidt) in Chicago, Illinois. He attended Loyola Academy high school, Notre Dame University, and St. Louis University School of Medicine, and completed his neurology residency at the Mayo Clinic. He was a man of deep faith, and very proud of his Jesuit education. He came from a long line of physicians dedicated to upholding the Hippocratic oath.
Jack had a distinguished 50-year career as a physician both in neurology and aerospace medicine. He was himself a pilot, and held an enduring love of aviation. He logged thousands of hours of flight time, many in service of underserved communities and his aeromedical work. He passed his love of aviation on to his son Michael, who is currently an accomplished pilot.
In his youth, Jack served as an usher for Andy Frain Ushers in Chicago and loved to tell stories of selling tickets to the Cubs and White Sox games, back to back, when he worked a double shift. He’d take the “El” from one stadium to the other all in one day. He and his friend, now brother-in-law, Mike Frain used to head to the Billy Goat Tavern after the Blackhawks games, where Billy Sianis’s famous goat, Murphy, would wander the tavern, accepting beers from customers. He was a lifelong fan of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish football team, and was proud to have gone to the 1985 Superbowl in New Orleans with his son Chris to see the Chicago Bears take home the trophy.
Jack was remarkably accomplished, yet humble and devoted to service. To those close to him, Jack was both serious and mischievous, thoughtful while incisively funny, respectful while irreverent, accepting while challenging, and above all, always kind and compassionate. He loved to laugh. He was exceptionally down-to-earth and unassuming even with all his educational and professional accomplishments, and all the respect and renown he earned. Jack was a respected leader but never stopped
learning and growing.
Jack took great care of his family. He had close and meaningful relationships with each of his four children. He adored his grandchildren. He met his former wife, Dr. Barbara Fries, in medical school in 1961, they married in 1965, and shared a neurology practice for 30 years. They enjoyed a lifelong friendship, and spent many dear times together
during his recent illness. He deeply valued friends and colleagues, whom he had all over the world. He loved and cherished his rescue dogs, and they him. He showed such incredible courage and strength in overcoming and adapting to devastating health challenges in recent years. He enjoyed living by the ocean in Jacksonville, FL and planned to retire there.
Jack was an incredibly hard worker and was still planning his “retirement”. He served his country with distinction in Vietnam, and had a profound love and respect for the veteran community. His fierce love of aviation led him to help thousands of aviators navigate the difficult requirements to be medically certified to fly. He is responsible for
helping to save countless careers of pilots who otherwise might have never flown again. He was an unparalleled pilot advocate when it came to medical matters. Many pilots would say he gave them their wings back.
Jack touched many lives and communities, and his work will live on. What follows is a partial list of his accomplishments and distinctions, recently published by the Aerospace Medical Association (ASMA):
“The award was established to honor Louis H. Bauer, M.D., founder of the Aerospace Medical Association. It is given annually for the most significant contribution in aerospace medicine. It is sponsored by the Mayo Clinic.
John D. Hastings, M.D., was the recipient of the 2016 Louis H. Bauer Founders Award for his dedication to aerospace medicine. Recognized internationally as the undisputed leader in aviation neurology, Dr. Hastings was a Fellow and Past President of the Aerospace Medical Association, and has been a leader in many other professional organizations. Dr. Hastings’ significant contributions to aerospace medicine have been sustained over a more than 30-year period. Throughout his career, he served numerous governmental regulatory authorities, participated in innumerable aerospace medicine scientific meetings, and authored numerous book chapters and journal articles. He was an icon within the international aerospace medicine community. Specifically, being board certified in neurology and aerospace medicine, he served as a senior neurology consultant to the Federal Air Surgeon since 1992, having written over 3,000 opinions regarding pilot aeromedical dispositions. Many airmen’s careers have been salvaged by his recommendations.
In addition to his consultation to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), many pilots sought his consultations privately. Dr. Hastings was a lecturer for the FAA for 32 years, giving presentations to aviation medical examiners (AMEs) initial and recurrent certification. Furthermore, he developed theme seminars on neurology, psychiatry, and neuropsychology. He also served as an Adjunct Clinical Assistant Professor for the aerospace medicine residency at the University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston. He has been a Clinical Assistant Professor in Neurology at Oklahoma University College of Medicine in Tulsa since 1979. From 2013-2016, he was also Clinical Associate Professor at the Department of Community Health, Wright State University Boonschoft School of Medicine, Dayton, OH. In addition to clinical aviation medicine and teaching, Dr. Hastings authored the neurology chapters in “Clinical Aviation Medicine,” 4th and 5th editions, and for the most recent editions of “Fundamentals of Aerospace Medicine.” Furthermore, he co-authored the neurology chapter in the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Civil Aviation Manual, Standards and Recommended Procedures. Dr. Hastings earned his M.D. degree at St. Louis University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO, in 1965. He served an internship at Los Angeles County General Hospital in California from 1965-1966, and then a residency in Neurology at the Mayo School of Graduate Medical Education in Rochester, MN, from 1966-1969. Later in his career attended MPH Core Courses for Aerospace Medicine Certification at the Medical College of Wisconsin Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences in Milwaukee, WI, from 1996-1997. From 1969 until 1971, he served in the U.S. Army at the 95th Evacuation Hospital in Danang, South Vietnam. After completing his military service, Dr. Hastings went into private practice first at Diagnostic Neurology Ltd., in Park Ridge, IL, and later with Neurology PLLC, Tulsa, OK, and then Neurologic Medicine PLLC in Tulsa. He was the Medical Director of Synaptic Resources, LLC, in Tulsa, and owner of Aerospace Neurology, LLC. He performed professional supervision for intraoperative neurophysiologic monitoring for Neurologic Services of Oklahoma, LLC, in Tulsa, Hill Country Monitoring in Austin, TX, Neurology Services of Florida in Jacksonville, as well as for Southwest Neurodiagnostic Services, LLC, and Hill Country Monitoring, LLC, in Mississippi. Dr. Hastings’ awards include the Bronze Star from the U.S. Army, Airman of the Year from the Flying Physicians Association, the Forrest Bird and Harris Awards from the Civil Aviation Medical Association, the President’s Award from the Experimental Aircraft Association, and the John A. Tamisiea and Theodore Lyster Awards from the Aerospace Medical Association. He was a member of the American Academy of Neurology, the American Medical Association, the American Society of Neurophysiologic Monitoring, the International Academy of Aviation and Space Medicine, and the Airline Medical Directors Association.”
Jack is survived by daughter Lara Hastings, with husband Mikhail Umorin and granddaughter Alexandra “Sasha” Mikhailovna Hastings-Umorina of Dallas, Texas; Pamela Hastings with grandson Nicholas Augustus Hastings-Sheff of Chicago, Illinois; Michael Hastings with grandson Mitchell James Hastings of Tulsa, Oklahoma; Christopher Hastings with wife Stephanie Owen of Chicago, Illinois; and his former wife, dear friend and mother of his children Dr. Barbara Fries of Chicago, Illinois. He is also survived by his sister Patricia Frain, with husband Michael of Sarasota, Florida; his
niece and nephew Kelly Frain and Michael Frain, Jr and their children; and sister Carol Hastings of Tulsa, Oklahoma. He was devoted to his rescue dogs, Hershey and Annie.
Jack will be remembered by his family in eternal peace, love, and gratitude. In lieu of flowers, Jack would have appreciated donations to his chosen cause, The Red Cloud Indian School in Pine Ridge, South Dakota. https://www.redcloudschool.org/
A private celebration of Jack’s life will be held at 2 pm on Wednesday, May 5, 2021 at St. Johns Family Funeral Home is St. Augustine. Those who would like to attend the service remotely can view the service live streamed at https://iframe.dacast.com/b/156599/c/549019
Other memorials will be planned by the family and details will be shared at a later date.
Jack’s favorite poem:
“Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings; Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth Of sun-split clouds, — and done a hundred things You have not dreamed of — wheeled and soared and swung High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there, I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air… . Up, up the long, delirious burning blue I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace Where never lark, or ever eagle flew — And, while with silent, lifting mind I’ve trod The high un-trespassed sanctity of space, Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.” — John Gillespie Magee, Jr.