Cover photo for Dr. Frank J. Karfes, Dds's Obituary
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Dr. Frank J. Karfes, Dds

Dr. Frank J. Karfes, DDS, 88, passed away peacefully on January 26, 2023, at Hospice of the Western Reserve in Cleveland, Ohio with his loving children, Irene and Jim, by his side. Beloved husband of the late Steliane (nee Parthemos), cherished son of the late James and Mary Karfes, and dearest brother of the late Theodora. Dear friend of Renee Rogers and treasured brother-in-law, uncle, cousin, and colleague of many.

Born March 29, 1934, Dr. Karfes was the son of Greek immigrants and grew up in Grove City, PA. An avid scouter, he earned the rank of Eagle Scout and became a member of the elite Order of the Arrow. Although he was president of his 1952 class at Grove City High School, a guidance counselor once remarked his parents shouldn’t “waste their money on college” for him. He proved her wrong when he enrolled at the University of Pittsburgh, majoring in Organic Chemistry. After only two years of undergraduate work, he was accepted to the University of Pittsburgh Dental School, from where he graduated in 1958. As a result, he managed to finish his DDS degree before his Bachelor’s degree. (He later returned to University of Pittsburgh to complete his undergraduate work, receiving his BS in 1960.) While in dental school, he was elected vice president and then president of the Psi Omega Dental Fraternity. Shortly after graduation, he married the love of his life, Steliane, in 1959. Nine months later, their daughter Irene was born and the family moved to Philadelphia, where Dr. Karfes completed his coursework at University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Medicine in 1961.

Dr. Karfes’ long and distinguished career began when he was accepted as an intern at New York Hospital Cornell Medical Center’s Oral Surgery Program in 1958, followed by a residency at St. Vincent Charity Hospital (Cleveland) from 1959-1960. Called to serve his country in 1961, Dr. Karfes completed a three-year tour of duty as a USAF Captain at Tachikawa Airforce Base in Tokyo, Japan. While living there, he established a scout troop for sons of Air Force personnel. He was also a Board member of Nikolai-do Russian Orthodox Cathedral in Tokyo. He often spoke of that time in Japan with his young family as the best time of his life, making lifelong friends with whom the Karfes family is still in contact today.

In 1965, their son Jim was born. That year, Dr. Karfes returned to St. Vincent Charity Hospital, where he devoted more than five decades of his life as an oral surgeon until his retirement in 2020. During his remarkable tenure, he served as President of the Medical Staff (three times), Medical Director of the Ambulatory Care Center, member of the Board of Trustees, Chairman of the Credentials Committee, Chief of the Department of Dentistry & Oral Surgery, and President of the Board of Trustees for Sisters of Charity Foundation of Cleveland and the Saint Ann Foundation. In addition to his many duties at Charity, he was President of the Medical Staff at Saint Luke’s Medical Center and had hospital privileges at University Hospitals of Cleveland, Case Western Reserve University School of Dental Medicine (Assistant Clinical Instructor, Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery), St. Michael’s Hospital f/k/a St. Alexis Hospital, St. John West Shore Hospital, Marymount Hospital, and Women’s General Hospital. He was also the in-house oral surgeon for the Cuyahoga County Division of Inmate Services and the Cleveland Police & Fire Safety Forces. Dr. Karfes belonged to dozens of distinguished professional associations including the American Association of Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeons, American College of Forensic Examiners, American College of Healthcare Executives, American Dental Association, International College of Dentists, and International Society of Police Surgeons. He volunteered with Boy Scouts of America, Gilmour Academy, Greater Cleveland Eagle Scout Association, the Mayor’s Advisory Council of Mayfield Village, and Pi Omega Alumni Association.

Dr. Karfes had two families: his wife and children, and those he worked with for so many years at St. Vincent Charity Hospital. As a solo practitioner at a time when practicing medicine was much different than today, he was often called to go to the hospital in the middle of the night for emergency operations. He truly loved everyone he worked with at Charity. His profession was his passion, heart, and soul, and his devotion to his patients was his highest priority and greatest privilege. The Karfes family is grateful to his entire Charity family for the 55+ years of happiness they gave him.

Services will be held on February 2, 2023 at 11:30 am at Sts. Constantine & Helen Greek Orthodox Cathedral, 3352 Mayfield Rd, Cleveland Heights, OH 44118. The family will receive visitors at DeJohn-Flynn-Mylott Funeral Home, 4600 Mayfield Rd., South Euclid, OH 44121 on February 1, 2023 between 4:00 pm and 8:00 pm. Trisagion will be held at 7:45PM.  In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to Sts. Constantine Greek Orthodox Cathedral or Hospice of the Western Reserve, 17876 St. Clair Ave., Cleveland, OH 44110.


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