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Christopher Grant Champlin LaFarge
September 14, 1928 ~ January 9, 2023 (age 94) 94 Years Old
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Christopher Grant Champlin La Farge, a cardiologist and longtime resident of Santa Fe, New Mexico, died at the age of 94 on Jan. 9, 2023, of prostate cancer.
His father, Christopher Grant La Farge Jr. was a New York architect, novelist and poet. His paternal great-grandfather was the well-known stained-glass artist and painter John La Farge. His mother, Louisa Ruth Hoar, was the daughter of Rockwood Hoar, a U.S. Representative from Massachusetts, and the granddaughter of U.S. Senator George Frisbie Hoar.
After attending St. Bernard’s Preparatory School in New York and Groton School in Massachusetts, he graduated from Harvard College in 1951. At Harvard, he played oboe in the college orchestra, After college, he was an alternate in the 1952 summer Olympics in the backstroke. He went on to attend Yale School of Medicine, gaining his M.D. degree in 1955. From 1957 to 1961, he served in the U.S. Air Force Medical Corps in Colorado Springs, and was honorably discharged in 1972 as a Major in the USAF reserves.
He joined the Children’s Hospital Medical Center in Boston as a Fellow in pediatric cardiology in 1961, where he became the Associate Director of the Cardiac Research Laboratory (1961-74) and the Director of the Research Catheterization Laboratory (1968-74). At this time, his research focused on the development of a left ventricular assist device (LVAD) which is still in use today. He also served as the hospital’s Director of Professional Services and Quality Assurance from 1975 to 1979. Unusually, he was board-certified in two specialties, cardiology and physiology, and he taught pediatric physiology at Harvard Medical School starting in 1965, becoming an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics in 1970. From 1974 to 1980, he was an Associate Clinical Professor in Pediatrics in Harvard and MIT’s joint Health Sciences and Technology Program.
In 1980, he moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico, where he joined the University of New Mexico faculty as a Clinical Associate Physician (1985-89) and, beginning in 1990, a Clinical Professor in Medicine. He also joined the Santa Fe Cardiology Associates and the staff of Christus St. Vincent Hospital, where for two years (1989-91) he was the Chief of Internal Medicine. At various times he served on the staff of the U.S. Public Health Service Indian Hospital, the Española Hospital, and the Piñon Hills Psychiatric Hospital.
After leaving active practice as a physician, he joined the New Mexico Medical Board in 1998, where he served as its Secretary-Treasurer for two decades, retiring in 2020. In this capacity he worked on medicine-related legislation with the state Legislature, including the Elizabeth Whitefield End-of-Life Options Act. In 1993, he received the Distinguished Achievement Award from the American Heart Association of New Mexico, and in 2018, he was given the John H. Clark Leadership Award by the Federation of State Medical Boards of the United States.
Dr. La Farge was a Fellow of the American College of Cardiology, the American College of Physicians, the American Society of Artificial Internal Organs, the American Physiological Society, and the American College of Angiology, as well as a Charter Member of the American Academy of Medical Directors.
In 1952, he married Maria Barbera Boissevain, with whom he had four children, Christopher, Antoinette, Ian, and Gedeon. After their divorce in the late 1970s, he married Patrica Hagerman, from whom he was also later divorced. He is survived by his four children and his step-daughter Sarah Heartt, 6 grandchildren, and 7 great-grandchildren. Dr. LaFarge’s brother, the writer W.E.R. La Farge; his half-brother, the writer Tom La Farge; his step-brother, biologist Billy Loomis; and his step-sister Joan Hastings all predeceased him.
He enjoyed fly fishing, skiing, sailing, and travel. Following his second marriage, he traveled extensively in Central and South America and in 1985 published a book, Faith in God and Full Speed Ahead!: Fe En Dios Y ¡Adelante!: Dichos from the Trucks and Buses of Mexico and Latin America. An exhibition of his photographs related to this book, “Travelling Dichos: Words to Live, Love, and Laugh by in Latin America,” traveled around the US in 2009-10. He also published several poems in anthologies of the American Poetry Association.
He will be interred in the Santa Fe National Cemetery with full military honors, where his uncle, author Oliver La Farge, is also buried. The service will be on March 21, 2023, at 11 a.m.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to La Familia Medical Center in Santa Fe or the UNM Children’s Hospital in Albuquerque.