Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jr.’s last rowing race turned out to be better than his best. Sitting No. 6 as a member of Yale’s eight-man crew, the underdog team won the 1956 Olympic gold medal during the Melbourne games. After the college crew failed to win its opening race, the Elis came back to win their next three, knocking off favorites Canada and host Australia on Lane Wendouree in Ballarat, Australia.
He has since lived up to the motto of his Olympic champion team: “Press on Regardless”.
Focusing on his life’s work, he began his medical career at Western Reserve University School of Medicine, with subsequent surgical residency at the Cleveland Clinic and St. George’s Hospital in London, England.
After that came a tour of duty in Vietnam. In January 1969 he began a distinguished 31-year career at the Cleveland Clinic, that included positions of President of Staff, Board of Governors, Chairman of the Clinic’s Breast Cancer Task Force and President of the American Association of Endocrine Surgeons.
Dr. Esselstyn Jr. has written more than 150 scientific publications, including the highly-regarded “Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease” in 1995. He was recognized with the Distinguished Alumnus Award by the Cleveland Clinic Alumni Association in 2009.
While his Olympic victory came more than half-a-century ago, Dr. Esselstyn Jr. refers to it as the “springboard” as it taught him self-confidence, the rewards of “total effort, personal courage, and most importantly, persistence”.
He lives in Pepper Pike with his wife Ann Crile Esselstyn. They have four children.