Kenneth H. Oberheu, M.D.,
Kenneth H. Oberheu, M.D., age 82, passed away peacefully at home surrounded by loved ones after a brief illness that took his life, but never his smile, sense of humor or his kind and gentle spirit.
Born on Nov. 4, 1934, in Cedarburg, Ken, affectionately known as “Nicky” to family members and friends in Wisconsin, graduated from Cedarburg High School in 1953, where he earned eight varsity letters in basketball and football, which led to a coveted spot in the High School’s Hall of Fame in 2012. In 2005, at the encouragement of his beloved wife, Marilee, Ken founded The Cedarburg High School Golden Bulldogs Organization that has given recognition to past teachers, administrators, athletes and students at Cedarburg High School. This became an integral part of Ken’s life, as he felt it was important to give back to the community and school that had supported him and provided him with a successful launch to his future in medicine.
After high school, Ken graduated from the University of Wisconsin in 1957 with a Bachelor of Science degree in pre-med studies followed by his Medical Doctorate from The University of Wisconsin Medical School in 1961, at which time he was elected the “Outstanding Medical School Graduate.” Ken met Marilee Faust on a double date while at The University of Wisconsin Medical School in 1960, and on June 10, 1961, a week after Ken’s graduation from medical school, Ken and Marilee married in Marilee’s hometown of Dayton, Ohio.
Ken dedicated his entire 40year surgical career to Miami Valley Hospital (MVH) in Dayton, beginning in 1961 with his general surgery residency. He then attended a surgical fellowship at The University of Michigan from 1966 to 1968 in advanced cardiovascular thoracic surgery, maintaining a regular attendance as an alumnus of The John Alexander Society.
Upon his return to MVH in 1968, Ken began what would become recognized as one of the 50 Best Open Heart Programs in the country and, on occasion, ranked above The Cleveland Clinic. After months of advocating funding for an open heart surgery program and borrowing a local hospital’s 800 pound heart-lung machine that Ken would transport between hospitals in the back of his family station wagon, in November 1968, Ken performed the first open heart operation at MVH with success. Ken often credited the success of the open heart surgery program to the contributions and team work of the MVH administrators and multiple hospital divisions that were integral in supporting quality patient care and program development.
Ken’s enjoyment of teaching and sharing his knowledge with students and residents led him to become a Clinical Professor and Director of Wright State University School of Medicine, Division of Cardiac and Thoracic Surgery, from 1975 to 2001. Ken retired in 2001, at which time Ken and Marilee turned their family vacation home of 30 years on Kiawah Island, S.C., to their primary home where Ken maintained a presence at The Medical University of South Carolina instructing residents in ethics and moral issues in medicine.
Ken compiled a distinguished list of achievements, awards and recognitions throughout his career, including having been elected the youngest Chief of Staff Elect and Chief of Staff during his tenure at MVH and in 2002, a plaque with his name and accomplishments at MVH that has a permanent place on MVH’s Surgery Wall of Honor.
Perhaps the most striking feature of Ken’s career is that you would learn none of his accomplishments from him. He would much rather promote and mentor those around him than step even momentarily into the spotlight himself. He would prefer to tell you how much he loved his family, coveted his profession and valued the ability that everyone, no matter their chosen occupation or role in life, could make a difference in the world and in the lives around them. Ken lived a life of passion and purpose and had a gift for approaching each day with joy and wide-eyed wonder. His uplifting spirit was an inspiration to his family and friends and to everyone with whom he came in contact. Ken knew no stranger and he carried love, laughter and happiness wherever he went.
Ken is preceded in death by his parents (Linda and Arnold Oberheu) and his beloved wife of 52 years (Marilee Faust Oberheu). He leaves behind to continue his good work on earth: Sister – Catherine Snider (Bruce) (Harlingen, Texas); Brother – Jim Oberheu (Sherry) (Cedarburg); Daughters – Dr. Anne Marie Oberheu (Durham, N.C.), Kristin Marie Oberheu Corn, J.D. (Jeff) (Mooresville, N.C.), Marilee Molly Webster (Dave) (Matthews, N.C.); Son – Ken Oberheu Jr. (Beaufort, S.C.); In-laws – Gerry and Marlene Faust (Akron, Ohio), Fred and Laurie Faust (Kiawah Island, S.C.); Grandchildren – Lauren (23), Caroline (19), McKenzie (18), Gabrielle (16); and an endless list of families and friends, including Karen Kimsey, who together they showed great love, care and compassion for each other over the years.
Ken’s family will receive friends on Friday, July 7, 2017, from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Westbrock Funeral Home located at 1712 Wayne Ave., Dayton, OH 45410. A Mass of Christian Burial to Celebrate Ken’s Life will be held on Saturday, July 8, 2017, at 10:30 a.m. at Holy Angels Catholic Church, located at 1322 Brown St., Dayton, OH 45409. Condolences to the family may be offered at www.westbrockfuneralhome.com.
In lieu of flowers, the family
requests that a donation be made to the Cedarburg Community Scholarship
Fund (CCSF) in memory of Kenneth H. Oberheu, M.D., and mailed to P.O.
Box 654, Cedarburg, WI 53012 until a scholarship endowment fund can be
established in Ken’s name.