Joseph J. Westwater, Jr., MD

Class Year




Posted on: February 26, 2021

Described by his son, Nathan, as a great man, Jay left this earth reluctantly on January 29, 2021. Uniquely curious, kind, boyish and conscientious, his easy temperament belied his strong drive.

Born in 1955 in Dorchester, MA, and raised in Falls Church, VA and Louisville, KY, Jay went to Boston College, law school at Georgetown, and medical school at the University of Virginia. A residency in Emergency Medicine at Hennepin County Medical Center brought him to Minnesota. Jay practiced at United Hospital in St. Paul, where he was chief of staff and director of the Emergency Department during his service there. He was committed to his work and remembered as “a great advocate for his patients and the nursing staff.” His colleagues, who will dearly miss him, said his “contributions were grand and his demeanor humble and kind. We were fortunate to have him as he strove to make the world a better place.” At the end of his career, Jay’s interest in law and medicine converged when he became the CEO of MinnMed, a medical cannabis company.

Jay had a high tolerance for chaos, and that was a good thing. His home on Grand Hill had a pulsing heartbeat: it featured escape-artist dogs, many parties, plenty of visitors, and the constant presence of extended and adopted family. Jay found balance in riding his bike, baking pies from the apples in the small orchard garden he and his wife Ginny tended, playing golf, climbing and skiing down mountains, and reading or playing backgammon in front of the fire. His daughter Charlotte will remember him best as her camping, canoeing and sailing teacher; worthy tennis opponent; and steadfast hiking companion. His ability to pay attention and listen earned him many deep, lasting friendships. To those who knew Jay well, a certain wry twinkle in his eye conveyed that here was a guy who might set his basement on fire after smoking a furtive cigarette or punch up the accelerator in his car for the thrill. Jay wanted his ashes spread in the places he loved — Fenwick Island, Delaware; Spruce Pine, North Carolina; mountaintops; and home. But the most important parts of Jay will live on in the hearts of his beloved wife Ginny and his children Nathan and Charlotte. Our hearts are broken that his is stilled, but we are grateful for the steady grace he brought to us all.

Jay was preceded in death by his father, Joseph Westwater, Sr. He is remembered and loved by his wife Virginia Kraus, St. Paul; son Nathan, St. Paul; daughter Charlotte, Long Beach, CA; mother Mrs. Joseph Westwater Sr., McLean, VA; sisters Joann (George Schneider) Westwater, Hillsboro, WI; Kathryn (Seungjae Lee) Westwater, New York, NY; Patricia (Robert Chapman) Westwater, Washington, DC; and Jennifer (Andy) Bellwoar, Chester Springs, PA; as well as adored nieces and nephews.

Memorials preferred to the Park Nicollet Foundation (dedicated to cannabis research for cancer patients) and to the United Hospital Foundation. A gathering for all of Jay’s family and friends will take place when the garden is blooming and we can gather once again.