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Dr. John Alan Heaney


Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Hanover, N.H. — Dr. John Alan Heaney was many things: a pioneering surgeon, a world traveler, a pre-dawn golfer, a Boston Celtics season ticket holder, and a renowned hand-squeezer. But most of all he was a loving father and husband. On Saturday, Feb. 24, 2018, surrounded by his family in his Hanover home, John passed away from Progressive Supranuclear Palsy at the age of 71.

Born on March 16, 1946 in Dublin, Ireland, to Albert and Winifred (Whiteside) Heaney, John’s academic achievements at Sandford Park School earned him a prestigious academic full scholarship to Trinity College, Dublin to study medicine. He spent the next two decades accruing a multitude of honors and academic and medical degrees that included MB, BAO, BCH, FRCSI, FACS, and MA.

John graduated from Trinity College in 1969 and began his 42 year medical career at the Adelaide Hospital in Dublin on a rotating internship. The next year, while on an Accident Service Rotation at the Radcliffe Infirmary in Oxford, England, John met Fiona (Scott). Their courtship continued during his 6 month General Surgery rotation at the Hammersmith Hospital in London. Undeterred by a near 5000 mile journey, John and Fiona were married in Lusaka, Zambia on Dec. 16, 1972.

Back in Dublin, a year spent as a Registrar at Meath Hospital preceded his position as a Senior Registrar at St. Vincent’s Hospital, which marked a shift to his specialization in Urology. In January 1975 John arrived in Boston as a Research Fellow at Massachusetts General Hospital and stayed on for a three-year Residency. From 1980 to 1985 John served as a Urologic Oncologist at Tufts New England Medical Center. After a brief return to Dublin as a Urologic Consultant at St. Vincent’s Hospital, John began his 25-year career at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center as Chief of Urology. During his time in Hanover he strengthened the residency program and was a pioneer in laparoscopic radical prostatectomy, and later, in robotic surgery. Many letters from patients over the years attest to his skill and empathy. In 2011 John retired from Urology due to declining health.

Always a sports enthusiast, John spent his youth playing rugby, cricket, and field hockey. An ardent fan of all Boston sports, John was a proud Celtics season ticket holder for more than 20 years. As an adult, at the first hint of dawn, you were likely to find John on the Dartmouth and Baker Hill Golf Courses. He also enjoyed hiking, running, cycling, tennis, walks around Occum Pond and sailing on Goose Pond. The evenings were often spent at White River’s Northern Stage Opera House, walking to the Nugget Theater, Dartmouth’s HOP, or for dinner on Main Street from his home a few blocks away.

John was predeceased by his parents and his brother Stephen. He is survived by Fiona, his wife of 45 years; children: Adam, Denton, and Lia; daughter-in-law, Allison and two grandchildren; brother, Michael; many nephews and nieces and their children.

A memorial service will be held on Saturday, March 24 at 11 a.m. at The Church of Christ at Dartmouth College, 40 College St., Hanover, NH 03750.

Memorial donations in honor of John may be made to Cure PSP, an organization working to end prime-of-life neurodegenerative disease.