James Jerow Elting


Died August 10, 2012,Oneonta, NY

College: Davenport
Major: English
Graduate School: Columbia University, M.D., Medical School, 1966

Widow: Mrs. Karen A. Elting
18 Brigham Road
Oneonta, NY 13820-4626
607-433-2031 (Fax)
607-287-4849 (mobile)

Children: Kimberley Elting Cohen, 1964; Laird Elting Robert, 1967; Regan Wesson, 1970; Clayton Curley, 1971; William Elting, 1986
Grandchildren: Amy Wesson, 1997; Reid Zara Cohen, 2001; Petra Martel Robert, 2003; Teal Julia Cohen, 1999; Matthew Wesson, 2001; Mark Wesson, 1998; India Elting Robert, 1999

In Memory of

James J. Elting, MD

August 4, 1939 – August 10, 2012


James Elting, M.D., a highly regarded orthopaedic surgeon at Bassett Healthcare, died Friday August 10 after a brief and unexpected illness.

Dr. Elting was born on August 4, 1939 in Neptune New Jersey to parents Julia Thompson and Stephen Gerow Elting. He grew up in the New York/New Jersey area and, while attending high school in Belleville, N.J., was introduced to a sport that became a life-long passion – rowing. He attended Yale College, where he was an English major and competed on the Varsity men’s rowing team. Graduating with honors in 1961, he went on to medical school at the College of Physicians & Surgeons at Columbia University. With medical school classmates, he helped found the Old Blue Rugby Club, which, he was proud to say, went on to become one of the most feared rugby powers in the country.

Dr. Elting first came to the Cooperstown area during his internship at Mary Imogene Bassett Hospital in 1966-68; it was during this time that he developed a deep love for the area and its residents. Following his internship he served in the Navy, as the First Medical Officer aboard the USS Columbus, the flagship of the Sixth Fleet. He went on to complete a residency in Orthopaedic Surgery at Yale New Haven Hospital, at a time when innovations in joint replacement surgery were changing the field of orthopaedics in a dramatic fashion.

In 1973 Dr. Elting returned to upstate New York and established a medical practice, Otsego Orthopaedics, in Oneonta, becoming the first Orthopedic Surgeon on the staff of A.O. Fox Hospital. For decades, the practice’s signature logo of the spouting whale adorned T shirts, programs, and advertisements for the numerous sporting events and charities supported by Dr. Elting. It was his life-long love of sports that led him to incorporate sports medicine into his practice, in addition to the specialty of joint replacement surgery. He felt privileged to care for generations of families and athletes in the area.

During his years in private practice he travelled extensively, teaching surgical techniques and lecturing throughout the U.S., Europe and Asia. Dr. Elting’s papers were published in national journals of Orthopedics, and he held several patents for total hip design. He served as an Orthopaedic Surgeon at the 1980 Olympic Games in Lake Placid.

In 1995, he joined the staff of Mary Imogene Bassett Hospital as senior orthopaedic surgeon and clinical assistant professor of orthopaedic surgery, returning to the hospital where he had trained so many years before, taking pride in helping train another generation of young physicians.

Dr. Elting was dedicated to his community, serving on many boards including the Ricky J. Parisian Foundation and Planned Parenthood of Delaware and Otsego Counties.

Dr. Elting was a tireless and faithful supporter of Hartwick College for almost four decades. He was a member of the John Christopher Hartwick Volunteer Program since 1999, was a past President of the Hartwick College Citizens Board and served on College Board of Trustees for 21 years. Dr. Elting had been Chair of the Board of Trustees since 2009. He also served as a member of Hartwick’s 2002 and 2007 Presidential Search Committees and the most recently served in various capacities for The Campaign for Hartwick Students.

The Elting Gallery at Hartwick College was named for Dr. James and Karen Elting in 1990. The Fitness Center in the Binder Physical Education building was dedicated to James J. Elting, MD in 1993. Dr. Elting, along with Karen, received the Outstanding Citizens of the Year Award from Hartwick College in 2006. Dr. Elting has spent countless hours working with student-athletes, coaches, and Sports Medicine staff through the years and he was an avid spectator at Hawk athletic events.

Dr. Elting’s volunteerism did not end with the local community. In 1977 he spent a month working at a hospital in Kabul, Afghanistan prior to the Afghan Russian war, volunteering through Care Medico. His concern for the health care and politics of the region led to his return in 1985, accompanied by his wife Karen, to Peshawar, Pakistan where he cared for Afghan refugees displaced by the war.

A relentless amateur athlete, Jim ran in the Marine Corps marathon, and competed in numerous masters rowing competitions around the world. With a team comprised of former classmates, the Yale Old Fellows Rowing Association (YOFRA) brought home medals from competitions in Eastern Europe, Scandinavia, Scotland, Canada and the US. He also crewed on several ocean sailing races, most notably in the TRANSPAC, a 2-week race from Long Beach, California to Honolulu, Hawaii. In recent years Dr. Elting had become an enthusiastic member of the Oneonta Sportsman’s Club, and had added a new group of friends to his life.

He was a consummate traveler who took great joy in the journey, not just the destination. He and his wife Karen enjoyed many travel adventures together, and Jim always had a great story to tell.

And he looked darn good in a kilt.

He is survived by his wife of 31 years, Karen; his children Kimberley Elting and her husband Stewart Cohen, Laird Elting and her husband Jean Robert, and William M. Elting; his step children Regan Wesson and her husband Steve, and Clay Curley and his wife Anne Marie; and his grandchildren Amy, Mark, Teal, India, Reid, Matthew and Petra. Also surviving are his brother, William W. Elting of Houston, TX, and several sisters- and brothers-in-law.

Visiting hours will be held on Thursday, August 16 from 5 to 8 PM at the Lester R. Grummons Funeral Home,

14 Grand St in Oneonta. A Memorial Service celebrating Jim’s life will be held on Saturday August 18, 2012, one o’clock pm at the Lambros Arena at the Binder Athletic Center at Hartwick College.

In lieu of flowers, donations in Dr. Elting’s memory may be made to one of his favorite organizations:

The Old Blue Rugby Foundation, Inc.

PO Box 892

New York NY 10021-0002

Friends of Bassett

1 Atwell Rd

Cooperstown, NY 13326

Hartwick College

College Advancement

P.O. Box 4020

Oneonta, NY 13820

Condolences to the family may be made online by visiting our website at www.grummonsfuneralhome.com.

Arrangements are by the Lester R. Grummons Funeral Home, Oneonta.


When finally sitting down to compose this essay, three questions came to mind: what would my classmates like to hear; what story of my life should I tell; and who really gives a shit anyway?

Most importantly, I love Yale. Casting all intellectual objectivity aside, the memories of classmates, rowing for Yale, intellectual challenges, friends who have remained life-long, the anxieties, the athletic and academic triumphs…and defeats. All of this seems to shine brighter the older I am, despite the passage of 50 years.

What Yale did in my case was to take me from Belleville, New Jersey (familiar to fans of “The Sopranos” and “Jersey Boys”) and allow me to see a world beyond. After graduation I went to Columbia Medical School and, after some general surgery training and a stint in the Navy, completed a residency in orthopaedic surgery at Yale – another wonderful experience. In 1973 I began a practice as the first orthopaedic surgeon in Oneonta, N.Y., a college town in the northern foothills of the Catskills. Now, almost 40 years later, I’m still there, along with my loving wife of 30 years, Karen, and, depending upon the occasion, our family: my daughters Kimberley and Laird, an attorney and photographer respectively, who are each married and the mothers of two daughters apiece; my stepdaughter Regan and her husband and three children, hailing from my native state of New Jersey; my stepson Clay and his wife, who spend much of their free time hurtling down the slopes of the Tetons on season-dependent equipment; and our son Will, a new alumnus of Unity College in Maine and an avid outdoorsman who recently hiked the major peaks of the Presidential Range in the White Mountains in under 24 hours. Our life is full—as is the house for several holidays a year.

Here we are then. Do you want details of surgical achievements? The thrill of masters rowing in my 40’s? The volunteer work that Karen and I do in our community? Karen has been the chair of our local Planned Parenthood affiliate and the State University Foundation Board. I am currently Chair of the Board of Trustees of Hartwick College.

What it all comes down to is the question of the value of one’s life. I believe, fundamentally, that we (and I use that term advisedly) should use our talents to make some part of the world, beginning with family and community, a better place. That is the measure of a life well spent.

My experience at Yale allowed me, encouraged me, educated me to live my life to that end. And the end’s not in sight quite yet.