Feb. 12, 2021 — Charles Takeo Ozaki, M.D., Ph.D., one of the UF College of Medicine’s first graduates and the college’s first Japanese American graduate, passed away Feb. 3 in Gainesville, Florida, at the age of 94.
After receiving a Ph.D. in agriculture from Ohio State University, Ozaki was working at the Florida Agricultural Experiment Station in The Everglades in the mid-1950s when he caught word of a new medical school being constructed 250 miles north in Gainesville, Florida. The rest is history.
“I was visiting a friend who worked at the range cattle station one day, and he said, ‘Hey Charlie, they are starting a medical school at UF. You should apply.’ I applied and came up for an interview with Dean Harrell and Frank Putnam — neither of them had an office yet — and I was accepted,” Ozaki told the Florida Physician in 2005.
After graduating with the UF College of Medicine’s inaugural class of 1960, Ozaki spent four decades serving the children of Lake City as a pediatrician. For the first 13 years of his practice, he was the only pediatrician between Jacksonville and Tallahassee.
Ocala-based diagnostic radiologist Wendie Moore, M.D. ’92, remembers Ozaki as “beloved by everyone” as Lake City’s sole specialist.
“I was one of his first patients, and he was one of my first role models as a doctor,” Moore says. “When I was in college on a pre-medical track, I went to him for advice about being a physician. Then, 38 years later, we met again, this time on stage at a UF College of Medicine graduation ceremony where we both served as honorary marshals.”
In 1994, Ozaki was named to the UF College of Medicine Wall of Fame, which recognizes outstanding alumni who have made contributions to medicine, government, education and the community. Ozaki earned recognition for his clinical accomplishments, contributions to research and mentorship of students, residents and researchers.
An obituary honoring Ozaki’s legacy appeared in the Lake City Reporter.