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Dr. George S.E. Aitken

Posted By Hall-Wynne On February 13, 2012 @ 12:00 am In Obituaries | No Comments

Dr. George S. E. Aitken of Durham, N.C., died much too young on Monday, February 13, 2012 after a lengthy battle with cancer. He was born in Liverpool, England, on May 9, 1955, to Louise and Seymour Aitken. After completing his secondary education in Britain, George migrated to the United States to attend Harvard University where he excelled as a national caliber heavy weight rower and was a key member of the Ivy League Championship heavy weight crew teams from 1974-1978. George was also invited to be a member of the Porcellian Club founded 1791; its motto of dum vivimus vivamus “while we live, we shall live” became George’s mantra for life, as he relished every moment with his team mates, his friends, his family, his pets, and his professional colleagues and staff. When he graduated from Harvard, he moved to Cleveland, Ohio, to attend the Case Western University School of Medicine.
After completing his M.D., George came to Duke University Medical Center for his surgical and orthopaedic training with his mentors and world renowned surgeons: Dr. David C. Sabiston, Jr., Dr. J. Leonard Goldner, and Dr. James R. Urbaniak. It was during his residency that he met and married the love of his life, Martha. Graduating from the Duke program in 1988, he received a prestigious Fellowship in Adult Reconstruction at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in New York City. Then in 1989, he began his practice of orthopaedic surgery in the Philadelphia area. He became a Fellow of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and member of the Piedmont Orthopaedic Society, as well as an Examiner for the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery. In 1995, he was summoned back to Duke by his former Chief, Dr. Urbaniak; George was given several challenges and tasks for the Duke Orthopaedic program, which he tackled with enthusiasm and flare. George established the first outreach program for the Duke Division of Orthopaedic Surgery and Duke Private Diagnostic Clinic by starting and growing Duke Orthopaedics of Person County. He ran orthopaedic clinics in Roxboro and Yanceyville, and performed surgery at Person Memorial Hospital. George had many leadership roles at the hospital, including: Secretary of the Medical Executive Committee, Medical Director of the Rehabilitation Department, and Chair of the Surgery Committee. His incomparable talent and surgical skill delivered world class general, sports, fracture, and adult reconstructive orthopaedic care to all of his patients who trusted and loved him for his dedication to their health and well-being. He was respected by his peers and support staff for exemplary altruism in his day to day professional life. Additionally, as an Assistant Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at Duke University, George taught and influenced countless Duke Orthopaedic Surgical Residents in several educational venues. He volunteered his time and expertise to the Durham V.A. Hospital Orthopaedic Program by regularly assisting the residents in training with preoperative planning and then execution of complex adult reconstructive procedures. George also taught and shared his vast clinical experience with residents and medical students at the weekly Duke Orthopaedic Grand Rounds as well as the quarterly Duke “Leaving the Nest ” lecture series. George was the penultimate gentleman, a leader- by- example, and a role model, advisor, and friend to everyone within the Duke Orthopaedic family.
To all who had the pleasure of knowing George, he was a gentle giant of a man, a magnificent and caring friend, an epicurean of the good things in life, and above all, a loving, dedicated husband and father. His prime goal in life was the well-being and happiness of his wife and sons. George is survived by his immediate family, his dear wife, Martha, his two cherished sons, James and Michael, his beloved mother-in-law, Catherine Sizemore, and his devoted dogs, Crockett, Molly and Bogey. His family members whom he loved include his parents, Seymour and Louise Aitken; his cherished aunt, Eleanor Elkins; his brother Robert Aitken and family, wife Gil, and sons Edward, Angus, and William; his sister Helen and family, husband Tony Edmonds, and children Alice and Alexander Self, and Tim Edmonds; his brother David Aitken, and his brother-in-law, Dennis Sizemore and sons, Matthew and Adam.
The Aitken family is under the care of Hall-Wynne Funeral Service. The family will receive friends Saturday, February 18, 2012 from 5:00 p.m. until 7:00 p.m. at the Hall-Wynne Funeral Home in Durham. A memorial service will be held at 2:00 p.m. on Sunday, February 19, 2012 at Trinity Avenue Presbyterian Church in Durham. On-line memorials at www.hallwynne.com. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in George’s memory to Trinity Avenue Presbyterian Church Outreach Fund, 927 West Trinity Avenue, Durham, N.C. 27701 or Duke Hospice “Complimentary Therapies” at 4023 North Roxboro Road, Durham, N.C. 27704

Condolences for the family of “Dr. George S.E. Aitken”

Condolence from lisa stephens on February 14th, 2012 12:00 am

I am so sorry to hear of your loss. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

Condolence from Tammy Whitt on February 14th, 2012 12:00 am

Martha, James and Michael,
I just wanted to give you my deepest sympathy. Dr. Aitken was a wonderful man, who I enjoyed working with. You guys became part of my family and I will never forget you all. I know in my heart he is heaven with Mr. Sizemore and I know he is happy. I pray for you all to go on with your life and to be happy as he would want you to be.
Martha if you need anything please call. You are loved by many as well as Dr. Aitken.
It was a great testimony of his life to see and hear of the people coming to say good bye. That told the story of the wonderful man he was. May God Bless each of You and have his arms wrapped around you and the boys with peace and love.
I love you and wish you all the best in life.
Thank you for sharing him in his final days. I will never forget our visit!
With Love, Prayers and Sympathy,
The Whitt Family
Tammy, Doyle, Taylor and Dalton

Condolence from Patricia Wrenn on February 14th, 2012 12:00 am

You all are in my thoughts and prayers. May God comfort and hold you in the palm of His hand. Bruce, Patricia, Douglas and Leigh Anne Wrenn

Condolence from Debbie, Cliff, Meredith and Mackenzie Robinson on February 14th, 2012 12:00 am

One of the saddest days for our family to learn of George’s passing. He always gave that smile when he saw you, and the first thing out of his mouth was “how are those girls doing”. He truly had a sense of what was right, and knew how to bring families together, especially on the 4th of July. Even if our paths only crossed a few times a year, it was special seeing him and Martha. Our love and condolences to Martha, James and Michael. We are close by if you need anything. With love Debbie, Cliff, Meredith and Mackenzie

Condolence from Peter Cancila on February 15th, 2012 12:00 am

I am sorry for your loss.

My thoughts and prayers are with your family.

Condolence from Alice Oakley on February 15th, 2012 12:00 am

Martha..You and your Sons will be in my prayers. Dr. Aitken will be missed. May God be with your Family.

Condolence from joyce oakley on February 15th, 2012 12:00 am

To Martha and family.
i am so sorry to hear of the doc passing. we have missed him and yourself so much, the town not only lost a good doctor, but also a good man and a fine staff. He will be missed dearly.
you are in our thoughts and prayers.

Condolence from wanda Mangum on February 15th, 2012 12:00 am

I worked with Dr. Aiken at Duke, sorry for your lose

Condolence from Harriet Cates on February 15th, 2012 12:00 am

Martha, James and Michael, A Special life has passed from our sight…but never from our hearts.With our deepest sympathy in the loss of one so dearly loved.Though no one else can lift away the grief you feel right now, others want to honor all he meant to you and your sons. We love you. Harriet & Caleb Cates.

Condolence from Marion James on February 15th, 2012 12:00 am

Dear Martha and family. We share your loss with you. Dr. Aitken was a very special person. I always tell people he was our family doctor since he took care of so many of our problems. We have been missing him so much. I was praying his results would have been as good as mine. He often called me Maid Marian. Love Marion and Gordon James, Roxboro, N.C.

Condolence from Speedy on February 15th, 2012 12:00 am

Although George’s accomplishments are many, I’ll always remember him for his creation of the “Hokie Shuffle” that we all followed into the pool at VT. The big guy will be missed by all !!! Brenda and my prayers go out to Martha and the boys…we love you guys.

Condolence from James and Gretchen Cancila on February 15th, 2012 12:00 am

Dear Martha,
Please accept our condolence and trust George will be in our prayers. Of all his many accomplishments, George’s most spectacular is his family. All of us who met you and George through VT Swimming enjoyed the experience.

James and Michael,
I sat next to your Dad at the Nike Meet at UNC one year. He watch James swim an excellent race. His comment was “way to go son”. I am sure he said the same things about Michael. Make the most of life. Your Dad gave you the example and the skills.

Condolence from Elinor and John Ball and family on February 15th, 2012 12:00 am

Martha, James and Michael,
George was dear to our hearts even though the miles and time separated us. We are sad to think that he has left us, yet we know that in many ways he really hasn’t. We are holding you all in our prayers and send great love to each of you. We know that God will bless you with that peace which passes all understanding.

Condolence from Winfred Smith on February 15th, 2012 12:00 am

Dear Martha & Family,
I am so sorry for your loss. Martha, you & Dr Aitken replaced both my knees in 2009 and it changed for life for the better forever. He was a kind person and a great doctor. He will be missed as I will never forget how you, Dr Aitken and the surgery changed my life. THANKS SO MUCH!!!!

May God Bless you all.


Condolence from Suzanne Newell on February 16th, 2012 12:00 am

Dear Martha, James & Michael,
we cannot even imagine your loss. Our prayers are with all of you at this time. The memories we have of George are a fun and happy man. He always was there for a big hug and he gave many to Megan and all the swimmers and parents at VT. Special memories are definitely him leading the Hokie Shuffle at the meets. By senior year he loved being the leader of the shuffle and wearing the orange or maroon wig. And who can forget him winning the belly flop contest on the VT cruise. He was a wonderful special man and we will all miss him.

Suzanne and Megan Newell

Condolence from Kimberly Clayton on February 16th, 2012 12:00 am

Dr. Aitken was a wonderful man. He showed lots of compassion to his patients. He will truly be missed. To his family, I will be keeping you in my thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.

Condolence from Cindy Schrodt on February 16th, 2012 12:00 am

I was so sorry to hear of Dr. Aitken’s passing. I met him years ago when we were living in Roxboro and I broke my leg. I remember when he came into the room, he filled the door! He was such a nice man and a great doctor. I did not realize that he had been ill. I’m so sorry for your loss. Sincerely, Cindy Schrodt

Condolence from Ann Fitzgerald Switzer on February 16th, 2012 12:00 am

To Martha, James, Michael….I didn’t know until I saw the New Progress today, and I am so sad to hear of your loss. Please know that your Clarksville friends are thinking of you, praying for you, and hoping to give you hugs in person in the near future. I am so sorry for your loss, and grateful that I at least got to meet George a couple times. Love, Ann F. Switzer

Condolence from Sylvia Seamons on February 16th, 2012 12:00 am

I am so sorry & saddened to hear of Dr. Aitken’s passing.I met Dr. Aitken & Martha in 1995 when I became a patient. He was so wonderful to me. I remember what a great team he & martha made. Martha please know that I am praying for you & your sons. I remember you giving me a hug when I got my news that day from Dr. Aitken and you told me it would all be ok. I want to give you a hug now and tell you with Gods love & care you & your family will to be ok. He was such a great person & I will miss him. Please know that I will keep you all in my thoughts & prayers in the days head.

Condolence from Ellen Hellman on February 16th, 2012 12:00 am

I just learned of your sweet husband’s untimely death through Kath Urbaniak Wolfe. My heart is heavy and my eyes misty. Please accept my most sincere condolences. You, and your entire family are in my thoughts and prayers. Your husband was truly your knight in shining armor. May his memory serve as a blessing for all of you.
Ellen Hellman Duke SON ’79

Condolence from Gwen & Tom Cox on February 17th, 2012 12:00 am

Martha, James & Michael – we just learned of your dear George’s death last night. Our hearts were so saddened at the news. We know that God has a wonderful gentle angel joining Him now. Our thoughts and prayers are with you.


The Cox family

Condolence from Randolph chitwood on February 17th, 2012 12:00 am

We are a friend of Dr. Scott Levin who told us of Dr. Aitken’s character and strength as a surgeon leader and person. James, his son, has worked with me for the last year in our laboratory. James typifies all of HIS DAD’s qualities and strengths. Life us short but legacies continue. Our ECU Heart Institute condolences. I wish I had known George as I know we had common goalS go better oatient’s

Condolence from Randolph chitwood on February 17th, 2012 12:00 am

We are a friend of Dr. Scott Levin who told us of Dr. Aitken’s character and strength as a surgeon leader and person. James, his son, has worked with me for the last year in our laboratory. James typifies all of HIS DAD’s qualities and strengths. Life us short but legacies continue. Our ECU Heart Institute condolences. I wish I had known George as I know we had common goalS go better oatient’s

Condolence from Christopher & Monica Harper on February 17th, 2012 12:00 am

Our prayers are with you during this most difficult time.

Condolence from Kathy Schill on February 18th, 2012 12:00 am

Martha, James and Michael,
We have known your family through elementary school, summer swim league and as a patient. All of you will always be admired and loved. George will truely be missed but never lost.
With all of our prayers,
Kathy, Richard, Kaitlyn and Rachel Schill

Condolence from Linda Barnett-Loro on February 18th, 2012 12:00 am

Martha, James and Michael,

You have all been in my thoughts and prayers since Carina called me on Wednesday night and told me about George’s death. I will always remember his hearty laughter and utter delight in his family. How lucky we all were in those years to be surrounded by so many really good men and women prioritizing being with their children as they rooted for those swimmers in race after race! And George was right there in the center of the crowd, his pride in his boys and his love for Martha a constant. A truly “great” man in all respects of the word, I can only imagine the size of the hole his death leaves in the fabric of your lives. As I discovered when Bert died, though, George will live on in your memories and the immensity of your love for him.

Know that my thoughts and prayers are with you at this difficult time.

love, Linda

Condolence from The Mills family on February 18th, 2012 12:00 am

Martha, James and Michael,

We are fortuate to have known George. His jolly laugh, his decisivness, his kindness and generosity, his gentle eyes that could yet speak so clearly that he meant business when needed. You know what I mean. Few people had the combination of such wonderful qualities found in abundance with George. He will be missed dearly, but the impact he had on others, and the legacy of the wonderful memories we have, will live on forever. Tyler loved him dearly and is so pleased he was able to spend time with all of you at the beach. He will hold those memories in his heart always, and carries a ready reminder right on his hand of George’s love and skill as a surgeon.

We are thinking of you all,

Bill, Janice and Tyler

Condolence from Keith mitchell on February 18th, 2012 12:00 am

I am so sorry for your loss. Dr.Aitken was such a good man and I’m so lucky to have known him. Please do not hesitate if there is anything I can do for you and your family.
May God Bless You,

Condolence from Denise Gerth on February 19th, 2012 12:00 am

Martha, James and Michael,
Please accept my condolances on the death of your beloved husband and father. I’ll always remember George from the many swim meets as someone I thought of as a gentle giant….always a gentleman. With sympathy.

Condolence from David Aitken on February 22nd, 2012 12:00 am

Big George I was so very lucky to have you as an elder brother. I will treasure our last conversation together only the other day always. We will always remember you. Keep looking down on all of us from Heaven. Thank you so much for your thoughts and wisdom over the years. I will do everything you told me to do and we love you too. We came to Durham to give you the best send off possible last weekend. We will be back to see how Martha, James and Michael are doing.

Lots of Love

David Aitken

Condolence from Pattie J. Tapp on February 23rd, 2012 12:00 am

To the family of Dr. Aitken; As a patient of Dr. Aitken for five years, I received exceptional treatment. I was saddened to hear of his illness and now his passing. I extend my condolences to his family. Pattie J. Tapp

Condolence from kathy merritt on April 21st, 2012 12:00 am

Martha, James and Michael, Reading in the DukeMed Alumni News about your dear husband and father’s untimely death filled me with sadness. My memories are of his gentle, caring smile illuminating many hours during swim practices and swim meets. I have the good fortune of meeting many parents and George stands out as one of the most adoring husbands and fathers I have ever encountered. Though no longer with you in flesh and blood I hope that his spirit and memories of times spent together provide comfort during moments of understandable pain. With fondness of all that I remember of George Aitken, i offer my condolences. Kathy Merritt

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