Dr. Yamada passed away August 31, 2017

Shokei Yamada, M.D., Ph.D.

With great sadness, we announce the death of our beloved husband, father and grandfather, Dr. Shokei Yamada on August 31, 2017 at the age of 91. Professor and Chairman Emeritus  for the Department of Neurosurgery, Loma Linda University School of Medicine, and renowned Neurosurgeon, Dr. Yamada had an illustrious career spanning six decades. He was universally regarded as a superb surgeon and researcher. Additionally, he was a much-respected teacher, colleague, mentor and friend to generations of students, residents, and fellows in neurosurgery. Through his work, he has saved or vastly improved the lives of thousands of patients. Patients have come from as far away as Europe, China, Australia, and South America to seek his medical care, due to his innovation and expertise in treating adult tethered cord syndrome. To his family he was a loving and inspiring father, a loving and engaged grandfather, and a loving and devoted husband.

Dr. Yamada was born on January 2nd 1926 to Shoan and Toki Yamada in Shimizu, Japan. He followed the proud tradition of six generations of his family in becoming a physician, the earlier generations serving as consultants to the Shogun families. He received his M.D. and Ph.D. in physiology from Jikei University in Tokyo, Japan in 1954. He began his neurosurgery training at the University of Toronto, then continued at the University of Chicago, and completed his residency at the Oregon Health Science University in 1962. After serving as an instructor in neurosurgery at Jikei University in Japan for one year, he returned to the United States as a Research Associate at the Oregon Health Science University.

In 1964 he joined the Medical University of South Carolina as an Associate Professor, serving as co-director of residency training and Chief of VA Neurosurgery. In 1973, he came to Loma Linda University School of Medicine where he spent the next 26 years. At Loma Linda he was Associate Professor and then Professor in the Division of Neurosurgery. From 1989 to 1995 he served as Chairman of Neurosurgery at Loma Linda. He retired in 1999 and since then participated in teaching and research. He continued to consult on clinical cases nationally and internationally until his death.

Dr. Yamada consistently pursued research in Neurophysiology and Neuropathology over the course of his career. At Loma Linda he developed an experimental model of tethered spinal cord. He received numerous rewards and honors over the years, including the Distinguished Neurosurgeon Award of the CNS. Remarkably at age 89, he received first place for his poster presentation on Spindle Cells in Glioblastomas at the 2015 Pediatric Neurological Surgery Conference. Dr. Yamada published over 175 articles and book chapters.  He is regarded as the preeminent authority on adult tethered cord syndrome and leaves his mark in the field of neurosurgery in his book “Tethered Cord Syndrome” which is in its 2nd edition. Additionally, he was editor of “AVMs in Functional Areas” and was on the editorial board of Neurological Research.

In addition to his many professional accomplishments, Shokei was a dedicated husband, father and grandfather. He was married to Rachel Thomasson of York, SC, enjoying almost 50 years together. They have two daughters, Vivian and Cheryl, and one son, Brian. He also had four grandchildren, William, Caroline, Donovan and Dylan. Shokei had immense pride in his children and grandchildren. In his later years he found great enjoyment engaging in the various interests of his grandchildren. He will be greatly missed by them and their parents.

Shokei had a deep love of classical music, in particular the violin. Often, he would disappear from family gatherings only to reappear with his violin in tow. In addition to his love of music, he loved sports, particularly sumo wrestling, judo, and baseball. He was a devoted Angels fan and attended many games over the years with Rachel and the children. Shokei spoke and read four languages: Japanese, English, French and German. In the last number of years, he was working on writing a dictionary of idioms in the English language for use by Japanese students.

Services will be held on Sunday, September 10, at Acheson and Graham Garden of Prayer Mortuary in Riverside, CA with visitation at 12 pm and a memorial service at 1 pm. Colleagues, friends and family are welcome to attend and celebrate his life. In lieu of flowers, please send donations to the Department of Neurosurgery Research Fund at Loma Linda University.

(Source: Family of Dr. Yamada)

(Photo source: Department of Neurosurgery, LLU)