HOUSTON (FOX 26) - Monday morning dozens packed into Trinity Episcopal Church downtown to remember Houston’s Dr. Denton Cooley.
"He's clearly put Texas on the map as far as the medical field goes and all of that work happened as a perfect storm in the wonderful time of the 60's and 70's", says city council member Mike Laster.
Cooley was 96 years old when he died, living a long life in Houston serving the medical industry. In 1968 he performed the first successful heart transplant in the United States and a year later, the first implantation of an artificial heart.
"He was the most phenomenal surgeon", says Dr. Charles VanBuren, a family friend and former colleague.
Council member Laster says that, "we are all indebted to Denton Cooley for the service he has given this city".
Cooley went to San Jacinto High School here in town and then later graduated from the University of Texas. In 1962 Cooley founded the Texas Heart Institute and was president for more than 40 years.
In 1984 President Ronald Reagan presented him with the Medal of Freedom and in 1999 President Bill Clinton awarded him the National Medal of Technology.
He was also well known internationally, Dr. VanBuren says, "at one time the government in the Netherlands was sending patients to Houston for surgery, so they put them on KLM, had Dr. Cooley operate on them and sent them back to The Netherlands, this was in the early 80's”.
VanBuren says that Cooley will not only be remembered for his work, but his attitude and character.
"There are many great men, not many good doctors but many great men and he was also a really nice man and I mean the reason you see this so crowded are because of his qualities as a man as well as a doctor", says Dr. VanBuren.
Dr. Denton Cooley was preceded by his wife Louise who died earlier this year.