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Obituary | Rudolph A. Klassen, MD

Rudolph A. Klassen, MD

Rudolph “Rudi” A. Klassen, MD died on November 15, 2022, at the age of 91 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  He was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba on January 30, 1931, to Russian Mennonite immigrants.  He attended the United College in Winnipeg and then medical school at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg. There he met Frieda and after graduation in 1956 they married. For the next 2 years he provided medical care to the Hutterite colonies in northern Alberta and Manitoba.


He was subsequently recruited as a general practitioner to Lamoure, North Dakota.  In 1963 after 5 years, and developing an interest in Orthopedics, he started an orthopaedic residency at the University of Minnesota.  He then developed an interest in pediatric orthopaedics, which led him to accept new challenges. 


CARE International opened a children’s hospital in Tunis, Tunisia and Dr. Klassen, with his wife and 4 children, moved there for 2 years. While working in Tunis, he met Dr. Mark Coventry, the Chairman of Orthopaedics at Mayo Clinic, who recruited him to Rochester, Minnesota in 1969.


During his career Dr. Klassen published 20 peer-review articles according to PubMed.


Dr. Klassen practiced pediatric orthopedics and spine surgery as Associate Professor at the Mayo Clinic for 40 years. He was the consummate clinician and teacher recognized multiple times as Teacher of the Year by his residents.


He was a long standing member of the SRS and became a member emeritus in 1975.  In 1996 he was named Mayo Physician of the Year.  His advice to residents was frank but supportive, and he engaged them on a personal basis.

Written by: Jay Shapiro, MD