Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Roger Hehn 1922-2013; Well Respected in Medical World, His Influence, Care Had No Bounds

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Roger Hehn 1922-2013; Well Respected in Medical World, His Influence, Care Had No Bounds

Article excerpt

Byline: Sandy Strickland

Roger Hehn performed more than 600 cleft lip and palate surgeries on children and adults in rural Mexico. For about 25 years, he spent Easter week in a remote mountain town south of Acapulco conducting clinics and correcting the abnormalities that many there considered a curse.

In Jacksonville, Dr. Hehn, a specialist in oral and maxillofacial surgery, practiced for 45 years, rising to the top of his profession.

He died Wednesday of renal failure. Dr. Hehn was 91. A memorial service is at 2 p.m. Tuesday at Riverside Presbyterian Church, 849 Park St.

"He was gifted in so many ways," said Earl Williams, who practiced with him for a number of years. "He was one of the most proficient and efficient surgeons I've ever worked with. He had good hands, a good heart and a good mind. He was one of those individuals that's a little larger than life. When he was talking to you, you felt like you were the only person in the world."

Dr. Hehn was born in Flint, Mich., in 1922. He earned his doctor of dental surgery degree at Northwestern University, completed his surgical residency at Cook County Hospital in Chicago and moved to Jacksonville in 1947. During the Korean War, he served in the U.S. Air Force.

His medical trips to Ometepec began in 1970 after learning of the need while serving on Riverside Presbyterian's world mission committee. He returned each year with a group of doctors and also did mission work in Central and South America. Jacksonville Rotary clubs helped fund Dr. Hehn's trips, and local hospitals and businesses provided medical supplies, Williams said.

Without corrective surgery, children born with cleft palates and lips in Ometepec struggled to speak and eat and were treated as outcasts, Dr. Hehn said in a 1995 Times-Union interview. Patients would line up outside the 30-bed hospital when they heard the Jacksonville team was coming.

"It touched him deeply and brought him great joy to transform a child or adult's face that someone didn't want to look at into something beautiful," said his daughter, Deborah Hehn of St. …

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