Dr. Riad Barmada, head of orthopedics at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine from 1984 to 1998, was a quiet champion of diversity at the school.
"Long before anyone talked about diversity, he recruited women and minorities," said Dr. Mark Gonzalez, the Riad Barmada professor of orthopedic surgery and current head of the department at UIC's medical school.
"He never made a big deal of it, he never talked about it, but he did it," said Gonzalez, whose own diversity efforts were recognized with the 2013 American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons Diversity Award.
Dr. Barmada, 84, died of lymphoma Friday, Jan. 10, in the University of Illinois Hospital in Chicago, according to his son, Owen. He had lived in Oak Brook for more than 40 years.
Dr. Barmada was a pioneer in a technique used in hip replacement surgery.
"He was one of the early people in the city to start doing the Charnley technique," said Gonzalez, referring to a technique developed by a British doctor that uses an acrylic cement to fix prosthetic components to patients' bones.
It was a significant advance over previous methods, Gonzalez said: "One of the first total hip replacements that really worked. It became the standard for many years."
Dr. Barmada grew up in Syria, the son of a judge. He earned his medical degree there in 1956.
He completed a year of general surgery training at Damascus Hospital before coming to Chicago, where he continued his medical education with an internship at the since-closed Walther Memorial Hospital.
That was followed by residencies in orthopedic surgery at what was then St. Elizabeth Hospital, what is now Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center and the University of Illinois Hospital.
In 1967, he joined the faculty of UIC's College of Medicine as a research associate and became a professor of orthopedics in 1972. He headed the department from 1984 to 1998. He retired in 1999, but remained professor emeritus.
Beyond his surgical skills, Dr. Barmada was an encouraging teacher, but one who demanded the best of his residents.
"He always instilled in his residents the importance of doing the right thing, treating people with respect and always doing your best," said Gonzalez, who was a resident when he met Dr. Barmada in 1980.
In addition to encouraging people to do their best, Dr. Barmada tried to provide opportunities for those around him.
"He was very dedicated to the school, to the university," said his son, a physician's assistant at the UIC College of Medicine Department of Orthopaedic Surgery. "And he was dedicated to preparing his orthopedic residents. He took great pride in being part of their training to become effective practitioners."
Dr. Barmada also is survived by his wife of 47 years, Gloria; another son, Adam, also an orthopedic surgeon; and five grandchildren.
A memorial is set for 10 a.m. Saturday, March 1, in the UIC Student Center West, 828 S. Wolcott Ave., Chicago.