In his lifetime, Dr. James Cosmides was many things — Vietnam vet, popular dermatologist, hospital chief of staff, husband and father.
But charmed? Rick Hasty, one of Cosmides’ regular golfing buddies, part of a foursome affectionately dubbed the Blazer Boys, chuckles when he recounts a telling incident.
“One day we were playing the eighth hole at Riviera [Country Club]. Jim was in the fairway hitting to the green. He hit an uncommonly bad shot — a shank spinning out of control, rising in the sky, directly smashing into the large oak tree far right of where Jim was aiming. We stood there watching this unfold. Suddenly, the ball struck the oak tree and floated upwards, completely reversing course, and landed gently on the green. I turned to Jim and said in a very sarcastic tone: ‘Did you save another life this week? Lawyers don’t get bounces like that!’”
Cosmides, who died at 72 of an undisclosed cause on Sept. 2 at his Coral Gables home, the morning after celebrating his 36th wedding anniversary with wife Candice, likely earned some free shots for the work he accomplished over the years.
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“One of the most giving people I’d ever seen,” said fellow Blazer Boy and friend Aldo Busot. “Over the last 30 years someone would walk up to him and say, ‘Hey, Doc! Would you take a look at this?’ and he never got upset.”
Born in Wheeling, West Virginia, on Dec. 31, 1942, Cosmides earned his medical doctorate from West Virginia University School of Medicine in 1967 and, a year later, joined the U.S Navy Marine Corps and served in Vietnam.
There, Lt. Cmdr. Cosmides worked as a surgeon on the battlefield. “He put himself in harm’s way daily, never knowing whether the next exploding shell would end his life too,” Hasty said.
For his efforts, Cosmides earned the Vietnam Defense Medal, Campaign Medal, Service Medal and Combat Action Medal.
After his service ended in 1969, Cosmides completed his residency in dermatology at the University of Miami School of Medicine. In 1985, Cosmides opened his private practice in Coral Gables.
Few people in life are universally liked. Fewer still are universally respected. Fewer still are universally loved. Jim was universally liked, respected and loved.
Rick Hasty, Coral Gables attorney
“You walked into Jim’s waiting area and people were chatty and upbeat. The attitude of the office was like Jim’s attitude: firm handshake and big smile and ‘Welcome, let’s see what we can do to take care of this,’” said Donald Slesnick, former Coral Gables mayor.
His patients included locals, people visiting from the Bahamas, the occasional movie star and state leaders. “Bob and I were so fortunate to have Dr. Cosmides as our friend and physician. Our hearts and sympathy go out to his truly fine family. They loved him very much. He was a genuinely fine man and in some smaller way we felt this same love,” wrote Adele Graham, wife of former Sen. Bob Graham, on the Miami Herald’s Guest Book page.
Cosmides was president and chief of staff at Victoria Hospital and Cedars Medical Center in 1988, and on staff at Doctors Hospital since 1993.
“Few people in life are universally liked. Fewer still are universally respected. Fewer still are universally loved. Jim was universally liked, respected and loved,” Hasty said.
Cosmides also served as the Grand Senechal of the La Confrerie des Chevaliers du Tastevin, a group of burgundy wine enthusiasts, and was an active member of the International Food and Wine Society.
“I always found Jim to be a renaissance man — whether his discussions about wine, in which he was very knowledgeable, or on sports,” Busot said. “Give Jim the opportunity and he’d talk about it for hours and you’d feel it was his passion.”
In addition to his wife, Cosmides is survived by children Regina Taylor, Christopher James and Nathalie Evelyn Cosmides; his sister, Dr. Maritsa Cosmides Pastis; and brother, George Cosmides.
Services were held and he will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery. Donations in Cosmides’ name can be made to the American Red Cross, St. Sophia Greek Orthodox Cathedral or Veterans of Foreign Wars Foundation.
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