Obituary: Clinton Devin
– December 10, 2021
On December 10, 2021 we lost Clinton “Clint” James Devin, 46 years old, in a plane accident near Steamboat Springs, Colorado. Clint was the youngest child born to Dr. Jerry and former State Senator Irene Devin of Laramie, Wyoming. He grew up in Laramie, where he developed his love for the outdoors through countless camping and off-road adventures with extended family in the Red Desert and Snowy Range of Wyoming. Clint especially enjoyed hunting and fishing trips with his father and older brother, Lance. Through his childhood and teenage years, Clint was known for his red-headed pranks, quick wit, his trusty Suburban, insatiable appetite, and his ever-running motor particularly on the swim and football teams.
Clint graduated valedictorian from Laramie High School in 1994 and matriculated to the University of Wyoming on a full scholarship, ultimately graduating with a Bachelor of Science (with honors) in Molecular Biology in 1998. Clint’s highlight of his college years was playing forward for the University of Wyoming Men’s Rugby team. Clint served as captain his senior year and was known for his ability to bring his teammates together to achieve their common goal. On one unforgettable team tour to southern California, Wyoming conquered the reigning division 2 national champions. The same trip is memorable in that Clint had persuaded his teammates to travel to the tournament in a shirt and tie!
In 1998, Clint left his beloved West for the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville, TN. His homesickness for the bright blue skies and big empty spaces nearly resulted in a transfer his first year of medical school, until he met his study partner and best friend, Jessica Schefter of Great Falls, Virginia. Together they navigated medical school and a “couples match” for residency and ultimately married in 2002 between graduation and the start of their internships. Clint went on to complete orthopedic residency at Vanderbilt University Medical Center where he served as Administrative Chief Resident his senior year and was awarded the resident research award for best paper. He then completed a complex spinal-reconstruction fellowship at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.
Clint returned to Vanderbilt as faculty where he spent nine years treating patients with complex spinal conditions, mentoring orthopedic and neurosurgery residents and fellows, and developing an active research program resulting in nearly 200 peer-reviewed publications. During his tenure at Vanderbilt, he guided the Quality Outcomes Database (QOD) registry, a nationwide prospective clinical registry for neurosurgical procedures and practice patterns. Clint’s leadership led to transforming QOD into the American Spine Registry, a collaboration between the American Association of Neurological Surgeons and the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons aimed at facilitating the participation of all US-based spine surgeons in a shared, quality data-collection platform. Similar to his time on the Wyoming Rugby team, Clint was known for bringing together the orthopedic and neurosurgery spine surgeons to form the Vanderbilt Spine Center. This represented a rare collaboration between two competing departments aimed at providing data-driven, highly specialized spine care. Clint’s academic achievements resulted in numerous national research awards and induction into the Cervical Spine Research Society as well as the Interurban Orthopedic Society. Clint’s passion, however, lay in mentoring the numerous medical students, residents, and fellows who flocked to him and became his pride and joy for the remainder of his life. This resulted in his receipt of the coveted residency teaching award at Vanderbilt, and more importantly life-long friendships.
In 2018, Clint fulfilled his dream of returning to the West to provide spine care to the patients of northwest Colorado and his home state of Wyoming. He played an integral role in the formation of the Steamboat Orthopedic and Spine Institute and later in the development of the Steamboat Surgery Center. He simultaneously broadened his practice to include several locations in Wyoming, all while maintaining an active research program as an Adjunct Associate Professor of Orthopedic Surgery and Neurosurgery at Vanderbilt. He remained a frequent invited lecturer and moderator at national and international orthopedic and neurosurgery spine meetings. Clint performed over 5000 spine surgeries during his career with the philosophy to provide the least invasive treatment possible that would allow patients to return to doing what they loved. He was notorious for his empathic demeanor and structured approach to care and was constantly looking for ways to improve care at the lowest possible cost. His predictable, positive outcomes were recognized both locally and nation-wide.
Most importantly, Clint was finally able to share his love for the West and its great outdoors with Jessica and their two sons, Conor and Langdon. He fiercely protected his family time and loved nothing more than to mountain bike, hike, run, ski, hunt, fish, raft, ride ATVs or snowmobiles with his family. He taught us all that “God put you on this earth to run, He did not put you here to sit.” He truly led by example. Clint is survived by his wife, Dr. Jessica Devin and their two sons, Conor and Langdon (Steamboat Springs, CO), his parents Jerry and Irene Devin (Laramie, WY), brother Lance Devin (wife Carey, daughters Mikayla and Kylie; Highlands Ranch, CO), sister Shelley Devin (daughter Ruby; Highlands Ranch, CO), brother-in-law Tyler Schefter (Whitefish, MT), in-laws John and Charlotte Schefter (Great Falls, VA) and his loyal Labrador, Zoey.
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