John Norman Pittman, MD, a pioneer in open heart surgery, was once described as “one of the good guys in a white cowboy hat.” He was a visionary. He believed that hard work could overcome any obstacle. He could do what others thought impossible. He believed in the underdog because he once was the underdog.


Dr. Pittman, 81, of Carmel, peacefully passed away Christmas Day, 2014 surrounded by his loving family.


He was born Feb. 4, 1933 in Princeton to Leonard Elmore and L. Audrey (Dorsett) Pittman who precede him in death.


John graduated from Indiana School of Medicine in 1957, serving as Class President. He was a Captain in the U.S. Army Medical Corps at Tripler General Hospital in Honolulu, Hawaii 1957-1958. He trained in General Surgery Residency at Methodist Hospital from 1960-1963 followed by Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery Residency at the University of Michigan 1963-1965. He was a Co-Founder and Cardiovascular Surgeon of Cardiovascular Surgical Services founded in 1965 at Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis.


John met the love of his life Euna Rose Williams, RN during his residency at Methodist Hospital. They were married in 1957 and were faithful for 53 years until she passed away in 2010. John loved, honored and cared for her until the end. He is survived by their five children; John Scott (Jill) Pittman M.D., Mark Anthony (Robin) Pittman, J.D., Steve Alan (Shelly) Pittman, Anne Marie Kelton and MAJ Chad Andrew (Cristi) Pittman, J.D. He is survived by 20 grandchildren, four great grandchildren and his one brother, James Lenard Pittman, DDS.


Dr. Pittman along with Dr. Harry Siderys pioneered the development of new cardiovascular surgical techniques in Indiana.  Dr. Pittman dedicated his career to the highest quality of patient care, resident education and innovation in a rapidly developing field of Cardiovascular Surgery. He was on the team that performed the first open heart procedure in 1965 at Methodist Hospital which rapidly evolved into one of the busiest programs in the country by 1971. Dr. Pittman developed a new sternal retractor system for use in coronary artery bypass graft surgery and later the first group in the state to perform heart transplantation in 1982. He retired in 1999.


Dr. Pittman has received several awards for his distinguished career including J. O. Ritchey Society Award and the Sagamore of the Wabash Award. His commitments to medicine and his community are numerous with several appointments at both Methodist Hospital and IU School of Medicine. John enjoyed his participation with the Scientech Club of Indianapolis. He and his late wife, Euna, were committed to furthering higher education through the establishment of multiple scholarship funds.


Please join his family in the “celebration of life” service 1 p.m. Saturday Jan. 3, 2015 at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church, 100 W. 86th Street, Indianapolis. Friends and family are invited to gather from 9:30 a.m.- 12:30 p.m. prior to the service. Funeral arrangements entrusted to Leppert Mortuary- Nora Chapel.


John  Norman  Pittman