Luis Bonilla, loving husband and father, dedicated surgeon.
Dr. Luis F. Bonilla, 49, of Rochester, MN died in a helicopter crash Monday, December 26th, 2011 near Palatka, Florida. Luis Felipe Bonilla was born June 4, 1962 in Cali, Colombia to Carlos and Anayansi (Jaramillo) Bonilla.
Luis first came to the Mayo Clinic as a visiting physician in April of 1991 to February of 1992.He returned to the Mayo Clinic in 1993 and entered into a one year Thoracic Surgery Fellowship.After his fellowship he returned home to Cali, Colombia to work as a Thoracic surgeon.In order to build his practice in Colombia, Luis returned to Mayo in 1997 for a fellowship in Cardiac Surgery.While completing his two year fellowship, Luis met and married his wife Tracy, a nurse in the cardiac intensive care unit, and they welcomed their daughter, Ana.
With the mentoring of Dr. Hartzell Schaff, Luis was brought into a career in cardiac surgery innovations with St. Jude Medical in Minneapolis/St. Paul.During these years, Luis had the opportunity to travel abroad and write articles about his research in cardiac surgery devices.Although he enjoyed the challenges of research, Luis missed direct patient care and felt called use the gift of his hands to operate.In 2005, he received an invitation to come back to Mayo to retrain in an accredited program and become Board Certified in the United States.
From 2005-2011, Luis spent countless hours in the hospital becoming a board certified general surgeon and completing another full fellowship in Thoracic and Cardiac Surgery.When he wasnt at the hospital, he enjoyed every minute as family man.He had a continuous passion for building good memories for the kids.Luis and Tracy had two sons, Philip and Anthony during his years at St. Jude Medical.He adored his children and was very proud of them. Tracy cannot say enough about Luis energy and drive to build memories for the three children.They spent many hours as a family boating on the Mississippi River and Lake Minnetonka, biking in Lanesboro, going to the Twin Cities for weekends and traveling on family vacations in the States and to Colombia.Luis loved to play with his kids. Together they enjoyed flying RC helicopters, planes, and kites. He never missed an opportunity to teach his children important life lessons.
He is survived by his wife, Tracy; three children: Ana (12), Philip (9), and Anthony (7); his father, Carlos of Cali, Colombia; one brother, Juan Carlos (Eleonora) Bonilla of Cali, Colombia; one niece, Juliana Bonilla; one nephew, Carlos Andres; father and mother-in-law, Gary (Carolyn) Fish of Waupun, WI, brother in-law, Jason (Melissa) Fish and their children, Makenzie and Madigan, of New Berlin, WI; and one sister-in-law, Lisa (Sean) Fromolz, and their children, Tyler and Hunter, of Waupun, WI.He was preceded in death by his mother, Anayansi.
A Catholic Mass was held in Cali, Colombia.
A memorial service will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Thursday, January 5, 2012 at Autumn Ridge Church, 3611 Salem Rd SW, with the Reverend C. John Steer officiating.Visitation will be from 4:00 8:00 p.m. on Wednesday, January 4, 2012 at Ranfranz and Vine Funeral Homes.
Memorials should be directed to the Bonilla childrens college savings fund.
Ranfranz and Vine Funeral Homes, 5421 Royal Place NW, Rochester, MN55901 (507) 289-3600www.ranfranzandvinefh.com
Rochester, MN 55901
Dear Bonilla family,
I am so sorry and saddened by the loss of Luis. I had the privilege of getting to know Luis during my time at Vascular Science and St. Jude. We spent many hours in the lab and also traveling together. One of my favorite memories is when we traveled to Memphis and took time to tour Graceland! I hope it gives comfort to know just what an incredible influence Luis was to those around him. He so often spoke about his family and children and must have been a great husband and dad. I really enjoyed his integrity, his competitive spirit, and probably most of all his sense of humor and positive approach to life. Please know he will always be missed but never forgotten.