Dec. 18, 2014
Dr. Leslie Bodnar, a widely-respected sports medicine pioneer who worked with University of Notre Dame student-athletes for nearly four decades, died yesterday morning in South Bend. He was 98.
Upon completion of his residency, he established his private practice of orthopedic surgery in South Bend in 1947. That practice evolved into what is now known as the South Bend Orthopaedic Surgery and Sports Medicine Clinic.
In 1949, Bodnar joined the staff of the athletics department at Notre Dame as orthopedic surgeon for student-athletes, a position he held until 1985. He served as director of sports medicine for the University from 1976-85, held the title of team physician during that period and was on teaching faculty at its extension of the Indiana University School of Medicine. He continued as a senior consultant for Irish athletics for a period after 1985.
Bodnar is a founding member of the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine, a fellow of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, the American College of Surgeons and the American College of Sports Medicine, among other professional memberships.
After 52 years, Bodnar retired from private practice and has dedicated his time to philanthropic pursuits, serving as pro bono orthopedic consultant to the Chapin Street Health Center and donating the funds for exam rooms at the Sister Maura Brannick Health Center, both in South Bend.
Beginning nearly 60 years ago, Bodnar has conducted numerous sports medicine conferences around the country for coaches and athletic trainers, giving seminal presentations that established precedent and practice for the field of orthopedic surgery.
His leadership and vision were significant factors toward the original formalization of relationships between professional orthopedic and national athletic entities such as the AOSSM and the U.S. Olympic Committee.
He earned his Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Illinois in 1939 and completed his M.D. there two years later. Charity Hospital in New Orleans functioned as the site for both his medical internship (1941-42) and surgical orthopedic residency (1942-43; 1946-47). From 1943-46, Bodnar served as an orthopedic surgeon in the United States Army.
Bodnar is the author of two books, Carnie (2010) and Sports Medicine, Notre Dame (2014).
With his late wife Bunny, he enjoyed 53 years of marriage, nine children and more than two dozen grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Funeral arrangements are pending.