John Mikuta, 88, doctor and Penn professor

John J. Mikuta
John J. Mikuta
Posted: January 29, 2013

John J. Mikuta, 88, a longtime medical professor and clinician at the University of Pennsylvania and a pioneer in the diagnosis and treatment of gynecological cancers, died Friday, Jan. 25, at the Medford Leas retirement community.

Dr. Mikuta grew up in Scranton and came to Penn to study medicine. Aside from a stint as a U.S. Army doctor between his internship and residency, he never really left. He earned his undergraduate and medical degrees at Penn, did all his postgraduate training there, and went on to head Penn's Division of Gynecologic Oncology - a specialty he helped create.

He continued to treat patients for a decade after stepping down as chairman in 1993, according to Stephen C. Rubin, who succeeded him as division chief. Rubin was among about 20 doctors whom Dr. Mikuta trained as fellows over the years - a generation of doctors who felt they owed their careers to Dr. Mikuta.

"He was so personally influential that he inspired a lot of people who wanted to do what he did," Rubin said. "He was a consummate physician and surgeon. He emphasized the importance of treating the whole patient and not just her disease."

Dr. Mikuta's devotion to Penn continued into his retirement, said his widow, the former Margaret Beauchamp, a British nurse who became Dr. Mikuta's second wife 40 years ago. The couple most recently lived at Medford Leas' Lumberton campus.

Dr. Mikuta's first wife, Dorothy, died in 2010.

"Penn was his great passion - he loved the University of Pennsylvania," his wife said.

The devotion was returned. To the end of his life, Dr. Mikuta held the title of Franklin Payne Professor Emeritus of Gynecologic Oncology at Penn's Perelman School of Medicine, and was a leader in alumni activities. In 2008, he was the inaugural recipient of the Penn Medicine Alumni Lifetime Achievement Award.

At the time, he recalled a special fondness for his early days at the institution where he trained and made his career.

"There was a lot of pride in being at the oldest medical school in America and it was a great feeling to be a part of that community and to feel like I was a member of a larger family," he told a Penn publication.

Dr. Mikuta's medical work was instrumental in his field's emergence within the larger realm of obstetrics and gynecology

"He is considered one of the founding fathers of the specialties of gynecologic oncology," Rubin said. Dr. Mikuta was among the doctors who cofounded the Society of Gynecologic Oncologists in 1969, and he served as its president in 1973.

In addition to his wife, Dr. Mikuta is survived by a daughter, Ann M. Murray of Wayland, Mass.; sons Mark P. of Richmond, Va., and Paul P. of Lansdale; a brother, Daniel, of Allentown; nine grandchildren and one great-grandchild. He was predeceased by another son, John J. Jr.

A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 2, at Trinity Episcopal Church in Moorestown. Burial will be private.

The family invites memorial contributions to the John J. and Margaret Mikuta Scholarship Fund, c/o Penn Medicine, 3535 Market St., Suite 750, Philadelphia 19104-3309.

Contact Jeff Gelles at 215-854-2776 or

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