Hundreds of friends celebrate the career of Ralph G. Dacey, Jr., MD

In a daylong celebration that began with a research symposium and ended with a gala, more than 300 people gathered to recognize the achievements and career of Ralph G. Dacey, Jr., MD, on Feb. 15. Dr. Dacey served as chair of the Department of Neurosurgery for 30 years at Washington University School of Medicine from 1989 through 2019.

Fellow neurosurgeons, former trainees and faculty, family and friends, patients and admirers, came from across the country, from coast to coast, and from as far away as Ireland, to pay tribute to the legacy of Dr. Dacey’s leadership.

“As our chair, he attracted the best and brightest and was selfless­—it was always more about the team than his own career,” noted current Neurosurgery Chair Gregory J. Zipfel, MD, during his remarks at the event. Dr. Zipfel is also the inaugural Ralph G. Dacey Distinguished Professor of Neurosurgery.

“He built a defining departmental culture in which everyone feels they are contributing and are part of the success of the department. And he focused on continuous reinvention, of himself and of the department, so we all continue to move forward together to provide the absolute best patient care.”

The day began with the department’s 14th annual Neurosurgery Research Symposium which included presentations from current residents, faculty, and guest faculty, and concluded with a keynote tribute to Dr. Dacey from M. Sean Grady, MD, the Charles Harrison Frazier Professor of Neurosurgery and chair of the Department of Neurosurgery at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.

Dr. Zipfel finished the event with a proclamation from Lyda Krewson, mayor of the City of St. Louis, recognizing Dr. Dacey’s status as one of the world’s preeminent neurosurgeons and marking Feb. 15, 2020, as Ralph G. Dacey, Jr., MD Day.

At the gala later in the day, a number of speakers representing current residents, alumni, faculty, neurosurgeons in Ireland, leading figures in St. Louis, and family spoke about the profound impact Dr. Dacey has had on their lives. Additionally, Dr. Zipfel unveiled a portrait of Dr. Dacey which will be hung in the department’s offices alongside portraits of other significant leaders from the department’s history.

 A book of bound letters and photos from current and former faculty and alumni was also gifted to Dr. Dacey at the event, a companion volume to a book of letters from current residents given to him in June 2019. The event concluded with a surprise announcement of the establishment of the Ralph G. Dacey Lectureship and Education Endowment in Neurological Surgery which will ensure that Dr. Dacey’s legacy continues to impact the department in perpetuity.

Along with family and friends, attending the event were:

  • 25 of the most influential neurosurgeons in the U.S. and Ireland
  • 20 current residents and 33 of the 61 alumni who graduated during Dr. Dacey’s Chairmanship
  • 22 current and former faculty from within the department
  • 3 of Dr. Dacey’s patients
  • 16 leaders from Washington University/Barnes-Jewish Consortium
  • Dr. Dacey’s 5 siblings and 4 Harvard roommates

Dr. Dacey continues to have a very active presence in the department, which includes seeing patients and being heavily involved in education.

View the program, photos and video, including Dr. Dacey’s remarks from the event. (link here)