Tomatis, Luis

Luis Tomatis was born in Argentina and married the famous artist and architect Gretchen Minnhaar. As a heart surgeon, Tomatis played a major role in furthering philanthropy toward medical causes in Grand Rapids. He also served on the board of the Grand Rapids Symphony, volunteered for the American Heart Association, and sent used medical products for the needy to Argentina.

Biographical Highlights

A native of Argentina, Tomatis graduated from medical school there and did his internship at the Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit. He had a thirty-year career as a heart surgeon at Butterworth Hospital in Grand Rapids, Michigan. During that time, he operated successfully on Richard DeVos, Sr. He helped to develop the Van Andel Institute and then headed it for six years. After that, he became a consultant on medical affairs for the DeVos family.

Historic Roots

Luis Tomatis was born in Argentina. His father was a civil engineer. Luis graduated from medical school in Buenos Aires in 1954. From 1954 to1957, he did his internship at Detroit's Henry Ford Hospital, one of the first in the country to start training open-heart surgeons. For thirty years, beginning in 1965, Dr. Tomatis was a heart and lung surgeon at Butterworth Hospital. He became chief of the thoracic and cardiovascular department and a clinical professor of surgery at Michigan State University. He performed heart surgery on Richard DeVos in 1983. He was the founding president and chief operating officer of the Van Andel Institute from 1995-2001, and then he became director of medical affairs for the DeVos family.

Importance

Tomatis was a key figure in Grand Rapids modern medical environment. He essentially shaped the formulation of the Van Andel Institute, a world-class medical research center. He also served as the chief consultant to the Van Andel and DeVos families on how they direct their philanthropy in regarding to medical institutions.

Ties to the Philanthropic Sector

Tomatis served on the board of the Grand Rapids Symphony, volunteered for the American Heart Association, and sent used medical products for the needy to Argentina. As an associate of the DeVos and Van Andel families, Tomatis played a major role in furthering philanthropy toward medical causes in Grand Rapids.

Key Related Ideas

Born and raised in Argentina, Tomatis had a distinguished career as a heart surgeon at Butterworth Hospital in Grand Rapids. After performing heart surgery on Richard DeVos, Sr., Tomatis developed close ties to the DeVos family. He worked with the Van Andel family to develop the Van Andel Institute and then consulted on medical affairs, including philanthropic giving for the DeVos family.

Important People Related to the Topic

  • Richard DeVos, Sr. and Jay Van Andel: Grand Rapids entrepreneurs that founded Amway. Upon attaining multi-billion dollar fortunes, DeVos and Van Andel collaborated with Tomatis on philanthropic efforts towards medical institutions in Grand Rapids.
  • Gretchen Minnhaar: A recognized artist and architect, Minnhaar is a native of Argentina, where she met and married Tomatis.

Related Nonprofit Organizations

  • The American Heart Association was founded in 1924 to support the elimination of cardiovascular disease and stroke. https://www.heart.org/
  • American Medical Association: Started in 1847, the AMA helps advance the science of medicine by uniting doctors nationwide to work on the most important professional and public health issues. https://www.ama-assn.org/
  • The Grand Rapids Symphony was officially organized in 1930 and is recognized as one of America’s leading regional orchestras. Eight concert series and extensive education and community service programs provide the community with performances designed for young children through adults, featuring a diverse repertoire. The Symphony sponsors the Grand Rapids Symphony Chorus, Grand Rapids Youth Symphony, and the Classical Orchestra. It also provides the orchestra for Opera Grand Rapids and the Grand Rapids Ballet Company.  (https://www.grsymphony.org/)
  • Van Andel Research Institute (VARI) is an independent, world-class medical research facility that has gained worldwide recognition for research into the genetic and molecular origins of cancer and other diseases. VARI conducts biomedical research, with a focus on cancer and Parkinson disease and with an emphasis on translating scientific research results into clinical applications. VARI strengthens science education and prepares and motivates individuals to pursue science or science-related professions. https://www.vai.org/

Related Web Sites

  • The Spectrum Health website at https://www.spectrumhealth.org has details about the system that incorporates the Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital to which Tomatis helped the DeVos family direct their philanthropy.

Bibliography and Internet Sources

Clipping file and oral history in the SOUL of Philanthropy collection in the Grand Rapids History and Special Collections of the Grand Rapids Public Library