Dr. John M. Driscoll, Jr., devoted servant of God and man, passed away peacefully at his home on September 9, 2022. He was 85 years old. As Msgr. David Hubba fondly remembers him, “Dr. John Driscoll was a splendid Catholic man who fulfilled his obligation to God and the Church through his actions in marriage and family, in his profession and in his community. He was an enormous presence and help to St. Joseph Parish and School through all his years here: the epitome of a giving Catholic believer, who placed his many talents at the Lord’s service. His life blessed us all.”

His obituary detailed at great length his accomplished life. Born in Brooklyn, NY, Dr. Driscoll grew up in Manhasset and was the son of John and Margaret Driscoll. He attended Saint Mary’s High School, was a member of the first graduating class, and would later be an inaugural inductee into the school’s Hall of Fame. After graduation, he attended Hamilton College, where he was a member of the varsity lacrosse and basketball teams, and elected to the Pentagon Honor Society. Dr. Driscoll then attended Wake Forest’s Bowman Gray School of Medicine on a U.S. Navy scholarship. He did his residency at the University of Pittsburgh Children’s Hospital where he met his wife Yvonne Thel, M.D., a fellow resident. In 1966 Dr. Driscoll was sent to Vietnam, but not before he went ‘AWOL’ to see Yvonne, who had just given birth to their second child. He then shipped out to Quang Tin Province, while Yvonne completed her residency at Washington Children’s, as chief resident, while raising their two children. Dr. Driscoll returned home in 1967 as a Lieutenant Commander. He was awarded a Bronze Star for overseeing the construction of a new hospital, and providing health care to Vietnamese civilians who had none.

In 1971 Dr. Driscoll completed his pediatric residency and joined the faculty of the College of Physicians and Surgeons, as well as the staff of Babies Hospital at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center, where he would spend the rest of his career. Dr. Driscoll’s specialty was perinatal medicine, working with a team of doctors and nurses in groundbreaking care of premature and high risk infants. ‘The clinical care and research that John and his colleagues provided, dramatically improved the odds that the infants they cared for would not only survive, but thrive.’ Dr. Driscoll helped establish Columbia’s neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) and was its director from 1973-1992. One of his greatest sources of pride was seeing the “graduates” of the NICU when they would return on Alumni Day, or other chance encounters when he would meet the parents of a child he had
cared for. The NICU unit he helped establish is now named The John M. Driscoll, Jr. N.I.C.U. Dr. Driscoll also founded and was the Chair of, the Neonatal Ethics Committee at Babies Hospital, one of the first pediatric ethics committees in the United States. In 1997 he was elected President of the Medical Board of Presbyterian Hospital and when it merged with The New York Hospital he served as the first President of the Medical Board of the New York-Presbyterian Hospital. He played a leadership role in the building of the Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital, which opened in 2003, and now ranks as one of the pre-eminent children’s hospitals in the nation.

In 2007, Dr. Driscoll stepped down as Chairman of Pediatrics and Pediatrician –in –Chief at the Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital after nearly forty years of service. His legacy of compassionate, family centered pediatric care is now carried on by the hundreds of physicians, nurses, and medical professionals he trained and mentored in his outstanding career. Out of the hospital, Dr. Driscoll was a longtime parishioner of Saint Joseph Parish. Here, he also served in a range of capacities, such as basketball coach, Parish Council Chair, and most recently as Chair of the School Board. Most notably, Dr. Driscoll was also a Knight of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta.

Dr. Driscoll is remembered as a humble, unassuming man. You would never know all the prestige, titles and awards he had earned throughout his distinguished career. Among them, several Outstanding Teacher Awards, a distinguished Service Award from Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, the Arnold P. Gold Foundation Award for Humanism in Medicine, a “Brighter Tomorrow for our Children Award” from the Hope and Heroes Foundation, and a Physician of the Year Award.

Dr. John Driscoll leaves behind his wife of 58 years Yvonne, his six children, their spouses, and sixteen grandchildren, who fondly referred to him as “Grandy”. May he rest in eternal peace.

-Carleen Wagner