Dr. Richard B. Caspari is one of the original pioneers in arthroscopic techniques for the shoulder. An innovator, a teacher, a mentor, and a leader in the field, Dr. Caspari held more than 40 patents for medical devices that advanced the specialty of arthroscopic surgery. His inventions included leg holders, shoulder traction devices, suture punches, and auger bit motorized cutters.
Dr. Caspari was born in Montgomery, Alabama. He graduated from the University of Florida, both undergraduate and medical school, and did his residency under Dr. Fred Reynolds at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. He was in the United States Navy from 1968 to 1970, and during that time, he served on a submarine.
Dr. Caspari practiced his entire career with Tuckahoe Orthopaedic Associates, Ltd. in Richmond, Virginia and was a founder and the director of Orthopaedic Research of Virginia, a nonprofit teaching and research foundation, which has trained over 90 Fellows in arthroscopy and sports medicine.
A member of AANA since 1981, Dr. Caspari served on the Board of Directors and was also Chairman of the Journal Board of Trustees. He was Treasurer and was ultimately elected President, serving in that office from 1990 to 1991. During his tenure, AANA moved toward financial stability, due in large part to his efforts. In his presidential address, he made the point that “arthroscopy is not a technique, but a subspecialty.” He felt that arthroscopy was a unique way of thinking about problems and solving them.
Dr. Caspari’s prowess from the lectern was probably exceeded by his ability to teach one-on-one. When working with him in the lab or in the operating room, one always left a better surgeon. He served as Chairman of the Metcalf Memorial Seminar in arthroscopy from 1993 to 1996. He was the author of numerous articles and chapters, as well as an editor of texts on arthroscopy.
Dr. Caspari was generous with his time, his knowledge, and his financial resources. The Orthopaedic Learning Center came into being largely because of Dr. Caspari. He was the largest personal contributor to the fundraising effort and was imminently involved in raising funds from the surgical instrument corporations. He also served as a Master Instructor for shoulder courses at the learning center from 1994 until his retirement in 1999.
Caspari was an adventurous man who was an entrepreneur. This probably is why he was so creative within the sphere of shoulder arthroscopy. He became an avid sailor and at the end of his life, had realized the opportunity of sailing around the world. In his presidential address to AANA in 1991, he described himself as a rebel and renegade operating on the fringe. Most of his friends and colleagues, however, remember him as a creative innovator whose mischievous grin simply indicated a new idea destined to advance shoulder arthroscopy to another level.
Dr. Caspari sadly passed away from a cardiac arrhythmia while skiing in Vail, Colorado, on January 19, 2000. He is survived by his wife, Judy Caspari.