May 1, 1929 ~ January 10, 2021
Born in: Humacao, PR
Resided in: Lancaster, SC
Caleb González, M.D. died peacefully on January 10, 2021 in Lancaster, SC at the age of 91. He had long term lung disease and suffered an event which led to aspiration pneumonia from which he was unable to recover.
Dr. Caleb González was born on May 1, 1929 in Humacao, PR to the Rev. Carlos P. González and Julia Mercado de González where he received his elementary and high school education in public schools. He received his B.A. from the Interamerican University of PR (1949) under a scholarship program for children of Evangelical Ministers. He then studied at the University of Puerto Rico School of Medicine where he received his M.D. in 1954 as a member of their first graduating class. He was among the top 3 students in his class and was selected for membership to the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Dr. González interned at Wayne County Hospital (MI) from 1954-1955 and then served as the first Puerto Rican Flight Surgeon in the US Navy (rank of Lieutenant Commander) on the USS Saratoga (CVA 60) and the USS Randolph (CVA 15). He was in the Navy for 9 years: Active duty 1955-59 and Naval Reserves 1959-64. While in the Naval Reserves, he completed his Ophthalmology residency in SUNY-Downstate (1959-62) and his NIH Sponsored Pediatric Ophthalmology & Adult Strabismus Fellowship at Bellevue-NYU (1962-64).
In 1965, he was selected as one of a handful of physicians representing the USA at the first international Strabismus meeting held in Giessen, Germany. All attendees became founding members of the International Strabismus Association.
Dr. González worked for 12 years at the University of Puerto Rico School of Medicine (1964-76) where he established and directed the first Pediatric Ophthalmology Department in Puerto Rico. He also established Pediatric Ophthalmology clinics at the San Juan Children’s Hospital, the University Hospital, the San Juan City Hospital and the PR Department of Health. He worked at these ad honorem while he resided in PR. While practicing, teaching and researching in Puerto Rico, Dr. González developed and presented numerous surgical firsts in the field of Strabismus.
In 1976, Dr. González was recruited by Yale University School of Medicine to establish its first Pediatric Ophthalmology and Adult Strabismus Section. In 1981, he was the first Puerto Rican physician promoted to tenured Professor at the Yale School of Medicine and awarded an Honorary Master of Arts Degree from Yale University. Dr. González was Acting Chair of the Ophthalmology Department and Chief of Ophthalmology at Yale-New Haven Hospital and the New Haven VA Hospital in 1977-78, 1985 & 1995-96. While serving as the Ophthalmology Resident Program Director in 1996 he was tasked with and succeeded in turning around the Residency program and its being returned to full accreditation in a record 10 months.
In 1983, Dr. González wrote his textbook “Strabismus and Ocular Motility” published by Williams and Wilkins; the first on this subject ever written.
Dr. Caleb González published and participated actively in hundreds of peer-reviewed scientific presentations at national and international meetings of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, American Association of Pediatric Ophthalmology & Strabismus, Pan American Association of Ophthalmology, and the Association for Research in Vision & Ophthalmology (ARVO). He presented his research and papers as the invited guest speaker at meetings in over 15 countries around the world.
He was a member of the Editorial Boards of two peer-reviewed Pediatric Ophthalmology journals. For 46 years (1964-2013), he was a permanent faculty member of the “Dr. Guillermo Pico Santiago” Basic Science course in Ophthalmology held every year the University of Puerto Rico School of Medicine and he was also a permanent faculty member of the Andean Ophthalmology Course help bi-annually in Medellin, Colombia.
Among the many surgical techniques he developed and the honors he received, he was also recognized by Who’s Who in America, Who’s Who in Medical Sciences Education, America’s Top Ophthalmologists, Who’s Who among Hispanic Americans, The First Honor Roll of Puerto Ricans Who Have Honored Puerto Rico Outside its Boundaries. In 2019, in recognition of his many accomplishments, the Protocol Salon at the Tropical Medicine Building in the Capital of Puerto Rico was named the Dr. Caleb González Mercado room.
Dr. Caleb González retired from Yale in 2006 with the academic rank of Yale Professor Emeritus of Ophthalmology and Visual Science. During his retirement, he wrote seven books about the history of the creation of the Puerto Rico School of Tropical Medicine and of the University of Puerto Rico School of Medicine.
He was a member of the First Church of Christ, Woodbridge, CT for over 40 years.
Dr. Caleb González loved all of the children in his care and was passionate about teaching surgical techniques and sharing his love for Ophthalmology to the many residents he worked with over the years. In his free time, he loved playing tennis and was an avid singles player into his 80’s.
Dr. González is survived by his wife & the love of his life of 65 years, Flora González; his 5 daughters, Lisa González of Millersburg, OH, Patricia González of Woodbridge, CT, Sandra González of Santa Rosa, CA, Erica I. González of Kissimmee, FL & Kristie Poulton of Lancaster, SC.; his siblings, Elsie Bernier of Humacao, PR; Ruth Berkel of Sarasota, FL; Abigail Culpepper of Matthews, NC, Eunice González of San Juan, PR and Benjamin González, of Birmingham, AL. He has 10 grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren. He is preceded in death by his parents, Rev. Carlos P. González and Julia Mercado de González, his sister Delia Palmieri of Jupiter, FL, brother Carlos Josue González of San Juan, PR & sister Miriam Zabawa of Vero Beach, FL.
Services for Dr. Gonzalez will be 11:00 am, Wednesday, January 13, 2021 at Greene Funeral Home Northwest Chapel, 2133 Ebenezer Road, Rock Hill, SC, followed by a private burial service in CT.
Anyone interested in offering condolences and/or sharing stories about Dr. González with his family can send them to Erica I. González at firstname.lastname@example.org. In lieu of flowers, his family would you like you to make donations in his memory to a charity of your choice.