Dr. John Cordice, who operated on Martin Luther King, dies at 95

Jan. 1, 2014 at 1:52 PM   |   Comments

NEW YORK, Jan. 1 (UPI) -- Dr. John Cordice, who operated on civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr. after a 1958 stabbing, has died in New York, hospital officials said. He was 95.

The New York City Health and Hospitals Corp. said Cordice died Sunday, the New York Daily News reported.

While Cordice practiced in New York's Harlem neighborhood for 40 years, he was best remembered for the surgery he performed Sept. 20, 1958, as chief of thoracic surgery at Harlem Hospital.

He was shopping in Brooklyn with his daughter when he was summoned unexpectedly to the hospital.

Cordice only learned when he arrived that King, in Harlem for a book signing, had been stabbed with a letter opener by a delusional woman, Izola Curry. Cordice and Dr. Emil Naclerio performed the delicate task of removing the letter opener, which had come close to King's heart.

Cordice was born in Durham, N.C. He moved to New York to study medicine at New York University.

At Harlem Hospital, he was part of one of the first integrated medical staffs in New York.

"He was a brilliant clinical practitioner, a wise and thoughtful teacher, and a man of deep and abiding kindness and quiet modesty. It is entirely consistent with his character that many who knew him may well not have known that he was also a part of history," HHC president Alan Aviles said in a statement.

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