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Remembering Earl Bakken

November 29, 2018

I was always in awe when in the presence of Earl, thinking of all the things he did with his life to help make other’s lives better. The first time I went to Hawaii, it was just two other DNP students and me. As we toured TuTu’s House, Earl’s garage, and the hospital that he inspired and helped create, I just couldn’t help thinking how wonderful, brilliant, and caring this one man was. He was also the man to invent the first wearable pacemaker; my daughter Christy, who was born with a congenital heart defect, has had a Medtronic pacemaker since her early 20s. She is now 40 and the mother of 2 children – all this is possible because of Earl.

My favorite memory of that visit was seeing the progression of Medtronic pacemakers from the earliest to the newest. Christy & I hold Earl in a very special place in our hearts. – Jan Tomaino

It was an honor to meet Earl Bakken. Having trained as a mechanical engineer, I was able to fully appreciate his contributions to the field of medicine. His life story is an inspiration, and his altruism is humbling. I hope that I can leave a positive legacy like him. – Tracy Marko

I was part of the first group of DNP students to study on the Big Island in 2010. The learning experience I found most impactful was meeting Earl Bakken. Earl prepared folders and stacks of books to discuss with the students Mary Jo Kreitzer brought to him. He took hours engaging in conversation that expanded my mind in ways I didn’t know were possible. I had been a nurse for only three years when I met Earl. He made me feel confident that the world was an enormous place with infinite learning opportunities, and I had made a sound decision by choosing to study integrative health. I am humbled to have been impacted by such an incredible human being. – Megan Voss

Earl was a wonderful man, and what a huge loss for all who were able to be close to him.

I remember first meeting him in Kiholo Bay, Hawai’i in his conference room. This first thing he said after greeting me was “Have you ever heard of Medtronic?” He was interested in providing minority women leadership opportunities at his organization. Earl was concerned that minority women were not being highlighted, and he trusted the education of students attending the U. He shared the calendar of his life and we discussed projects he still wanted to do stating “let’s get something a three year project, I don’t know how long I’ve got for anything longer than that.” I thought this man was extraordinary and I felt big being around if I had arrived somewhere great in my short life next to him. – Johanna Gaskins

The special experience listening to Earl’s vision and wisdom for the future of healthcare and his Aloha Spirit provided inspiration for my integrative nursing career. – Katelyn Erickson

I greatly appreciated Dr. Bakken’s kindness in welcoming me into his home. He lived a very inspiring life! My classmates and I were touched by his generosity to the world and hospitality for so many! – Robin Sautter

I remember walking into Earl’s home and touring his power and water plant. He was very gracious, welcoming, and curious about our experiences in Hawaii. – Justin Laube


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