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Pioneering Plastic Surgeon George Crikelair Dies at 84

Pioneering plastic surgeon George F. Crikelair died of a stroke on Feb. 24 at the age of 84.

Crikelair is best known as a leading advocate of fire-resistant coatings for children's sleepwear. In the 1950s, after noticing a correlation between children's severe injuries from burning clothing and their sleepwear, he was named to a national advisory committee that helped create the federal safety standards in the Flammable Fabrics Act.

Stanley Klatsky, associate professor of plastic surgery at Johns Hopkins University and a former student of Crikelair's, told The New York Times that Crikelair was struck by "the magnitude of the burns from clothing, burns that often exceeded 50 percent of the body, burns that were certainly life-threatening. … Through his influence, many potential burn victims were saved."

Crikelair joined Columbia in 1952, and by 1960 was named professor of clinical surgery, a position he held until his retirement in 1977. He was affiliated with Harlem Hospital and Francis Delafield Hospital.

He is a former chair of the American Board of Plastic Surgery and former president of the American Society of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons. He was the founder of the Information Council on Fabric Flammability.

Born in Green Bay, Wisconsin, Crikelair graduated from Norbert College and received his medical degree in 1944 from the University of Wisconsin.

He is survived by his wife of 60 years, Eleanor; three sons, David, Thomas and the Rev. Paul; three daughters, Amy Crikelair, Carol Wood and Mary Smith; and 15 grandchildren.

Published: Mar 21, 2005
Last modified: Mar 18, 2005

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