Raymond Martin Joson, 81, of Haverford, a pioneering neurosurgeon who consulted with the Roman Catholic Church about medical miracles, died of heart failure Thursday at his Haverford home.
Dr. Joson grew up in Northeast Philadelphia and graduated from St. Joseph's Preparatory School. He earned a bachelor's degree from St. Joseph's University and a medical degree from Georgetown University, and interned at Nazareth Hospital in Philadelphia.
After serving as a medical officer in the Army, he completed a residency in neurosurgery at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital and instructed medical students at Jefferson for many years.
During his 36-year career, Dr. Joson maintained offices in Upper Darby and Norristown, and at Mercy Fitzgerald Hospital in Darby. He had been chief of neurological surgery at Mercy Fitzgerald and Mercy Hospital in Philadelphia and cochaired the department of neurosurgery at Riddle Memorial Hospital. He was also affiliated with Sacred Heart and Montgomery Hospitals in Norristown.
In 1987, Dr. Joson published the results of a technique he developed for spinal-stenosis surgery in the journal Neurosurgery. The next year he was the first surgeon in Delaware County to perform a spinal-disk surgery that allowed the patient to go home the same day. Previous surgeries had required a five-day hospital stay. He retired in the late 1990s.
Dr. Joson was a founding member of the Pennsylvania Neurological Society and the Metropolitan Philadelphia Chapter of the American College of Surgeons.
On three occasions, the Catholic Church asked him to investigate reports of miraculous cures required to declare a person a saint. The first occurred in 1992 when a Drexel Hill teenager recovered from a debilitating spinal-cord disease after the Oblate Sisters of St. Francis de Sales prayed to their French foundress, Leonie Aviat, on the teenager's behalf. Aviat was canonized in 2001.
Dr. Joson also investigated the 1993 cure of a child from nerve deafness after the family prayed to Mother Katharine Drexel. Mother Drexel, a Philadelphia native, was canonized in 2000. Three years ago, he was asked to investigate a cure from head trauma associated with prayers to an Italian priest, Louis Guanella, a candidate for canonization.
A passionate golfer, Dr. Joson hit a hole-in-one at Overbrook Golf Club, where he had been a member for 35 years. He was also a member of the Loxahatchee Club in Jupiter, Fla., and the Great Bay Country Club and Stone Harbor Golf Club at the Jersey Shore, where he had a vacation home. He often played in tournaments with a good friend, Angelo DiBello.
Dr. Joson is survived by his wife of 53 years, Dolores Steffe Joson; sons Raymond Jr., Philip, William, and Michael; a daughter, Kathleen; two sisters; a brother; and four grandchildren.
A Funeral Mass will be said at 11 a.m. today at St. John Baptist Vianney Roman Catholic Church, 354 Conshohocken State Rd., Gladwyne. Burial will be in Calvary Cemetery, West Conshohocken.
Memorial donations may be made to St. Joseph's Preparatory School, Development Office, 1733 W. Girard Ave., Philadelphia 19130.