Edward Eyster ’59

Edward Eyster was born in Jacksonville, FL to William Westley and Louise Roxanne Fletcher Eyster on January 29, 1938. Dr. Edward Fletcher Eyster, passed away in his Jupiter home on June 10, 2020.

His wife of nearly 40 years, Joy, and his canine companion, Happy, survives him. The immediate family also include daughter, Elizabeth and husband, Paolo Ferrari, daughter, Eleanore, and grandchildren, Aden, Elin and Alma, brother, the Rev. Bert and wife Patty Eyster of Kentucky, and sister, Jo-Elen Eyster-Bailey, of the Atlanta area, in addition to a large family of cousins near and dear to his heart so loved and treasured.

A man of faith, he was a member of the Church of Bethesda-by-the-Sea in Palm Beach, FL, where services were live-streamed due to current pandemic conditions.
Educated in Jacksonville, Fletcher later attended Davidson College in North Carolina before completing a B.A. degree from Florida State University. He received his M.D. from Tulane Medical College in New Orleans and accepted a general surgery internship at University of California in San Francisco, CA. He honorably served his country in the U.S. Navy as a flight surgeon in Key West for 3 years before return to UCSF for a residency in Neurological surgery.

In 1973, Dr. Eyster was awarded a fellowship created by Dr. Hugh Fellows at the Atkinson Morley Hospital in London, England in 1973. From there, he pursued a private Neurosurgery practice in Pensacola, FL at the West Florida Regional Medical Center Clinic, serving from 1973-1996.

At West Florida Hospital, Dr. Eyster and staff of fellow physicians and nurses started an educational program for school assemblies to address the recent diving accidents in shallow rivers and lakes, during a drought season in summertime. “Feet First, First Time” was presented by the student victims of the diving accidents which left them spinal cord injured and paraplegic in some cases.

With an overwhelming community and national response from local fundraisers to national television, the program evolved into the continuum with Think First – involving the importance of diving safety, helmet use for bikes and other active sports and seat belt safety with the proper use of car safety seats for children. Students also become educated about the risks of drinking and driving and how to teach others to observe safety.

This program is supported by over 150 chapters all over the U.S., funded by private philanthropy in addition to the American Association of Neurological Association and the Congress of Neurological Surgeons. Think First is sponsored by many medical companies, as well as endorsement and support by General Motors.

Dr. Eyster was the Co-Director of the National Head and Spinal Cord Injury Prevention Program from 1986-1990, serving as Think First Chairman in 1994.

He received numerous honors such as a lifetime achievement and humanitarian awards affiliated with the AANS, CNS, NSA, in addition to being honored by President Ronald Reagan for his private sector initiatives at the White House following his ability to help support the Florida Helmet Law, implemented by family friend and governor, Bob Graham, of the state of Florida. He had continued his service with Think First co-founder Dr. Clarke Watts., and the program is thriving with support all across the country.

In 1996, Dr. Eyster returned to Neurological surgery practice in San Francisco as Associate Professor of Clinical Neurosurgery at UCSF, went into private practice with Dr. Bruce McCormack at Pacific Medical Center. Their partnership led to the development of the incision-less carpal tunnel release procedure known as Manos.

They have also developed a very successful tool for aiding in cervical spine operative procedures known as DETRAX by company name Providence Medical Technologies. Detrax is utilized in surgical suites World wide.

Dr. Eyster has served in numerous capacities as a Neurosurgeon throughout his career with authorship of papers presented in research and development, but more importantly service to the communities on the Treasure Coast has been most meaningful as a native Floridian.

He and his wife started research into biofouling of marine systems, which developed into Biofouling Technologies of which he has served as creator and to present board member and advisor with the faculty at Florida Tech in Melbourne.

Recently retired, Dr. Eyster has enjoyed serving as a volunteer physician at the My Clinic in Jupiter, FL, and the Martin Hospital in Stuart, FL.

He was an expert in his career as a Neurosurgeon, surpassed only by his love of the ocean environment through years of diving, fishing, and cruising boats in the Caribbean and Bahamas, and the peaceful mountain hikes in the high country of Yosemite.

With his dedication of service to others, deep love of friends, relatives and colleagues, Fletcher Eyster will be sorely missed. Donations in honor of this dear husband, father, granddaddy, friend and colleague, will be appreciated by his family in lieu of flowers.

The Church of Bethesda-by-the-Sea in Palm Beach, My Clinic in Jupiter, Martin Hospital, Palm Beach Food Bank, as well as the Think First Foundation in Napier, IL, reflect the service to others that meant so much to Dr. Eyster. Blessings and good wishes for a man who touched the lives of so many.

A private memorial will be announced in the future.

Published in The Palm Beach Post from Jun. 20 to Jun. 21, 2020.