Dr. Alexis Paul Shelokov, as an orthopedic surgeon specializing in treating scoliosis patients, understood the importance freeing patients from debilitating pain and physical disabilities.
He was an active outdoorsman who enjoyed cycling, skiing and hiking, and he strived to improve the lives of those with curvature of the spine.
On Aug. 3, Dr. Shelokov had just finished an exhilarating mountain-bike ride in Telluride, Colo. The Prospect Trail, which is 10 miles long and begins 10,500 feet above sea level, ends with a thrilling downhill series of switchbacks.
Dr. Shelokov, 55, died of an apparent heart attack after completing the ride while pedaling back to the trailhead. He was a veteran cyclist and had no known heart condition, his family said.
A memorial will be at 10 a.m. today at St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church in Dallas. His ashes will be buried this fall in Lone Tree Cemetery in Telluride, where he had a summer home.
"He felt like he was making a very substantial difference in people's lives," said his brother-in-law, Fred Gibson of Washington, D.C. "It was much more than a cosmetic type of issue. He dealt with people who had profound deformities, many of whom had not had successful results from previous surgery. He was helping people live much more normal lives."
Dr. Shelokov was one of the few surgeons in the nation who could rebuild a spine to correct a deformity, said Jerri Garison, president of Baylor Regional Medical Center at Plano, where Dr. Shelokov was director of the Baylor Scoliosis Center.
Scoliosis can cause debilitating pain, prevent normal breathing and bring on depression.
Dr. Shelokov's skills included a personable bedside manner.
"He was just so wonderful with his patients. He was so emotionally tied to them," Ms. Garison said.
Dr. Shelokov was born in Washington, D.C., where his father, Dr. Alexis Ioann Shelokov, was a researcher with the National Institutes of Health.
He grew up traveling the world as his father investigated infectious diseases and vaccines to prevent them.
Dr. Shelokov graduated from a private high school in Glenwood Springs, Colo., while his parents were based in San Antonio. He received his bachelor's degree in zoology from the University of Texas at Austin and his medical degree from what is now UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, where he met his wife to-be, Georgiana Gibson, who became a radiologist.
"The two of them met at the freshman medical school mixer on the very first day of class ... in 1978," Mr. Gibson said.
After an internship at Parkland hospital, Dr. Shelokov did postgraduate studies at Harvard Surgical Service and Tufts New England Medical Center in Boston, where he was chief resident at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center.
Dr. Shelokov received further training at the Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children and UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas as well as St. Vincent de Paul in Paris.
Dr. Shelokov started his medical practice at the Texas Back Institute in Dallas. He later founded and was president of Consulting Orthopedists. He had been director of the Baylor Scoliosis Center since 2005.
In addition to his wife and father, Dr. Shelokov's survivors include a son, Nicholas, and a daughter, Lara.
Memorials may be made to Doctors Without Borders.