lthough this year’s Alumni Weekend festivities went virtual, graduates of the UF College of Medicine showed up in full force to recognize the efforts of their alma mater. Celebrating classes hosted Zoom happy hours in May and reconnected for virtual lectures in October.
John Lovejoy Jr., MD ’66, and his son John Lovejoy III, MD ’01, were among the families celebrating milestone reunions this year. Both Drs. Lovejoy decided to pursue careers in orthopaedic surgery, following in their fathers’ footsteps, by happenstance.
Lovejoy Jr. said he actively tried to resist pursuing the same specialty as his father while he was in medical school in Gainesville 55 years ago.
During his 40-year career as an orthopaedic surgeon in Jacksonville, Lovejoy Jr. performed knee and hip surgeries for countless people — including well-known figures like President Gerald Ford.
His son graduated from the UF College of Medicine 35 years later, in 2001. Lovejoy III, who also grew up in Jacksonville, had another career before deciding to attend medical school.
“I wanted to do something meaningful that made a difference in people’s lives,” he said. “I always admired and was impressed with my father’s work, the fact that he was able to improve his patients’ quality of life.”
His heart wasn’t set on a particular specialty until his third-year rotations started. At that point, he was immediately engrossed by the tactility of surgery.
“I like working with my hands — one of my hobbies is working on classic cars — and being in the operating room allows me to address problems directly by using my hands,” Lovejoy III said. “I had really good mentors during my rotations, which can make all the difference.”
Lovejoy Jr. retired before his son finished his residency, so they never had a chance to work professionally together until volunteer work took them to the Caribbean.
Following a devastating earthquake in Haiti in 2010, the Lovejoys began taking trips to the island nation to assist medical teams with equipment and ongoing professional training.
Returning at least once annually until the COVID-19 pandemic, the Lovejoys and other volunteers with The CRUDEM Foundation provided aid to Sacred Heart Hospital in the northern city of Milot. Their efforts have included staff recruitment and training and funding a new operating suite. The Lovejoys were also recognized in a documentary, “Angels of Milot.”
Today, Lovejoy III works at Nemours Children Hospital in Orlando. His father, now 82, tends to his Jacksonville farm, living in the house he grew up in. He said he plans to return to Haiti as soon as it’s safe and as long as he’s healthy.
“I’ve always felt that in Haiti we were able to make a real difference and change peoples’ lives,” Lovejoy Jr. said. “I love the people there, and they’ve always been appreciative of our help.”
This story originally ran in the Winter 2021 issue of the Doctor Gator newsletter.