Ronnie Smalling, 62, passed away due to Covid-19 complications on April 5, 2021 in Kansas City, KS.
Ronnie was the son of Conzia Smalling and Mildred England born on February 1, 1959, in Prineville, Oregon. He attended public school in Broken Bow, Oklahoma, all 12 years, graduating in 1977 as Valedictorian of his senior class. He was actively involved in choir and band, playing the trumpet. Ronnie was in All-District Band numerous years while in high school and was Drum Major for the marching band his senior year. He was also selected for the All-District Choir, competing as a tenor. Additionally, Ronnie was involved in the National Honor Society.
Ronnie attended Oral Roberts University for undergraduate studies – graduating in 1981 with a Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Chemistry. Following graduation, he attended the University of Oklahoma Medical School. After graduating from medical school in 1986, Ronnie completed an internship and residency in Internal Medicine at the University of Oklahoma Affiliated Hospitals in Oklahoma City, OK. In 1989, he was selected as one of four people for a highly competitive Cardiovascular Fellowship at the University of Southern California Medical Center, Keck School of Medicine in Los Angeles, CA. Hand-selected by his professor, Dr. Rahimtoola, one of only five awarded Lifetime Recipients recognized by the ACC. At LA County Hospital, serving as Chief Administrative Fellow, he began his illustrious Cardiovascular journey under the mentorship of renowned and world-class physicians and Interventionalists.
Following his Cardiology Fellowship in 1992 in Los Angeles, Ronnie elected a second, additional Fellowship in Interventional Cardiology. He attended his additional Fellowship medical training at the Heart Institute in Portland, Oregon at St. Vincent Hospital. Triple boarded in Internal Medicine, Cardiovascular Disease and Interventional Cardiology. Once completing his fellowships in 1993, he selected a private medical practice in Springfield, Missouri to begin his Cardiology career, relocating with his firstborn son, Sam.
Once established practicing medicine, he welcomed his second and third sons, Blake and Zach, and finally, daughter, Sydney. Between 1993 to 2015, Ronnie developed an expertise and reputation in Cardiac ballooning, stenting, and atherectomy procedures as a Coronary and Interventional Cardiologist in the greater Southwest Missouri area. He was recruited to develop a Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD) program in Springfield when serving as Medical Director at the Hammons Heart Institute in Springfield from 2002-2004. Ronnie enjoyed treating heart attack patients, but his passion for Limb Salvage led him and fellow colleagues across the U.S. to form a group, New Cardiovascular Horizons (NCVH). This group is dedicated to educating, advocating, lobbying and advancing stenting in patient’s lower limbs, committed to avoiding patient’s leg amputations. He was recruited to build several more Cardiac PAD programs throughout the Midwest over the years while maintaining his practice. In Ronnie’s career, with over 20,000 procedures completed in Cardiac and Limb interventions, he was incredibly successful with Limb Salvage, enjoying a 99.98% success rate, where only one patient lost the front half of the foot, yet was still able to walk.
Along with practicing medicine, he served on numerous committees/panels, presented at countless conferences, and was published in numerous periodicals and academic journals. He was published in dozens of abstracts and Cardiology book articles. He was a 22-year Faculty leader and speaker for NCVH. He was also immersed in clinical research, and he was recently awarded two U.S. patents for devices, further advancing PAD treatments. Ronnie’s proven track record, expertise, and success rate in cardiac and peripheral interventional procedures demonstrated his disciplined work ethic and determination to be the best in what he did.
In 2014, Ronnie reconnected with his Medical School sweetheart, Happy Hayes, whom he met between Oklahoma University campuses. Ronnie and Happy didn’t waste any time and decided to build a private practice together, partnering to build a technologically advanced vascular specialty clinic, suitably named Smalling Vascular Institute, in Overland Park, KS. A specialty practice treating Chronic Venous Insufficiency and vascular disease. Since 2015, thousands of patients with lower limb and foot problems have been successfully treated. They worked tirelessly together to educate, serve, and heal those patients who had lost hope or who walked through their door seeking solutions to their leg problems.
More than his astounding success as a physician was the Ronnie everyone knew, respected and loved. He had a giving heart and subscribed to random acts of kindness to others. He selflessly put his patients, kids, career, ahead of himself, working harder than the majority of his contemporaries. His love for helping people was at the core of his work each and every day. His patients were treated with the utmost respect, highest regard, and with kindness in every interaction. He often said, “I wake up everyday, energized, excited and ready to be the solution for my patients. I love, love, love what we are blessed to do each day”.
Since he was a child, Ronnie enjoyed spending time outdoors and in nature. He loved waterskiing, being at the lake, and fishing. His love for wildlife, Big Game hunting & adventures often led him on hunting trips in Alaska, Idaho and all over the U.S. He maintained his friendships from all around, whether making memories in Colorado with lifelong friends, or getting involved in politics traveling to Washington D.C., he lived life with such passion and left little time for sleep. An avid marksman and tactical training hobbyist, he also enjoyed photography throughout life, listening to the Blues of Lynyrd Skynyrd, Stevie Ray Vaughn and many more. Few passions could compare with his adoration of his Oklahoma Sooner football team on Saturdays.
Ronnie had patients follow him from practice-to-practice. He had the most amazing bedside manner and never wanted to stop practicing medicine. He will be greatly missed, always remembered, and forever loved by his family, friends, colleagues, co-workers and former patients.
Ronnie is preceded in death by his parents, Conzia Smalling and Mildred England Smalling.
Ronnie is survived by Happy Hayes, his devoted partner and spouse; sons Samuel Smalling, Blake Smalling, and Zach Smalling; daughter Sydney Smalling; stepson Rob Peterson and stepdaughter Tanner Peterson; sister Debbie and her husband, Johnnie Smith; and Denise Brinkley. He is also survived by a niece, multiple nephews, several cousins, and countless life-long friends he considered family.
He is surely enjoying the presence of his Lord, parents, family and friends he led to the Lord - together once again.
Visitation for family and friends will be held from 6:00 – 8:00 PM, Monday, April 12, 2021 at the Bunch-Singleton Funeral Home.
Funeral Services will be held at 2:00 PM, Tuesday, April 13, 2021 at the First Assembly of God Church in Hochatown, OK, Interment will follow at the Hochatown Cemetery in Hochatown, OK.
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