Cardiologist Dr. James. J. Tenn, 88: Lifelong commitment to the pursuit of healing and the hope of science

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MANCHESTER NH — On April 3, 2020, Dr. James J. Tenn, 88, passed away at home surrounded by his family.

Born in Saghbine, in the Bekaa Valley of Lebanon, James was the oldest of eight children born to Yussef and Habaka Tenn. Growing up in a small village along the shores of the Litani River, he dreamed of opportunity and the promises offered by education and a learned life.

First in the birth order and with natural curiosity, James pursued his formal education. In a one-room schoolhouse, he learned simultaneously Arabic, French, and English and excelled in mathematics. As a young man, he came to the United States by himself to attend college, which solidified his life-long appreciation for the value of education and his love of America.

Self-made and self-motivated, he graduated from Lewis University in Illinois with a double major in biology and chemistry, earning also the top honor for achievement in mathematics.

Fueled by his desire to make a difference in the world, James attended medical school and graduated from the American University of Beirut in Lebanon, one of the most prestigious institutions in the Middle East. He completed his training and residency in internal medicine at the Lahey Clinic in Boston, where he was the chief resident. He then completed a fellowship in cardiovascular disease at the Lahey Clinic.

During the course of his training, James met and married the love of his life, Sylvia Catherine Nedder. Throughout their lives, they were inseparable partners. Together, with faith and fortitude, they raised their family and built a life grounded in service, now the pillars of their enduring legacies.

After their newlywed years, the couple moved to Manchester, where James established an internal medicine and cardiology practice. In 1980, to accommodate his growing practice, he built a professional office building in the heart of the City, which provided in one location medical, imaging, and laboratory services. For that contribution to the revitalization of the downtown, he was awarded the Key to the City.

During his nearly 40-year career, Dr. Tenn served thousands of patients in and around Manchester. Committed to the pursuit of healing and the hope of science, he was devoted to his patients and to his profession. In him, patients found the unique combination of keen intellect, quick wit, and natural warmth. In return, he found purpose in the relationships he built with those he was privileged to serve.

Dr. Tenn put his patients first. He worked tirelessly to ensure they could receive care when it was most needed, providing same-day appointments, making house calls to those who could not travel, rounding at both Catholic Medical Center and Elliot Hospital each day on his admitted patients, and taking call virtually every night. All the while, he provided significant charitable services to the many who could not afford care. Along with his wife Sylvia, he received the Pastoral Counseling Good Samaritan Award in recognition of his unending efforts to improve the lives of others.

Throughout his career, Dr. Tenn was proud of his decades-long affiliation with both Catholic Medical Center and Elliot Hospital. He took a particularly active role in support of CMC, where he served on the Board of Trustees, was Vice President of the Medical Staff, and a member of the Hospital’s Cornerstone Society to support its advancement. In addition, he served in other leadership roles, including as a member of the Board of Directors of both the New Hampshire Heart Association and the New Hampshire Cancer Society. He also was repeatedly elected to the Councilor Board of the Lahey Clinic Alumni Association.

Despite his intense focus on his professional work, Dr. Tenn was equally committed to his family. Together with his wife Sylvia, he led his four children and many grandchildren by his unshakable example and unwavering faith. He lived what he believed, that with hard work, faith and sacrifice, anything was possible.

To all who knew him, Dr. Tenn was defined by his indomitable spirit. He had unmatched courage, was intimidated by no challenge, and made his own luck in the world. He personified the pursuit of a meaningful life. In all that he did, he carried with him his Lebanese traditions. He imparted freely to his family and many friends the enduring wisdom of the Lebanese proverbs. He found inspiration in the symbolic strength of the Cedars of Lebanon and intertwined in the fabric of his life the hospitality and celebratory spirit of his culture.

Keeping faith at the center of his life, Dr. Tenn believed deeply in the power of God. He attended Our Lady of the Cedars Church, as well as St. Catherine of Siena Parish. He also was a member of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, achieving the rank of Commander with Star.

Dr. Tenn was predeceased in January by his loving wife of 56 years, Sylvia. After nearly 60 years of marriage, he followed her to eternal rest just over 60 days later, affirming for all their inseparability.

Dr. Tenn is survived by his four children of whom he was immensely proud, James J. Tenn, Jr., Esq. and his wife, Cynthia, of Manchester, John J. Tenn, Esq. and his wife, Grace, of Bedford, Mary E. Tenn, Esq. and her husband, Stephen R. Blair, of Manchester; and Annmarie A. Tenn, Esq. and her husband, Alessandro Martuscelli, Esq., of Carlisle, MA. He also is survived by his eight grandchildren, who find inspiration in the courageous and tenacious example of their grandfather, Matthew, Michael, Anna, Luke, Catherine, Elizabeth, Christian and Juliette.

SERVICES: There are no services at this time. Private burial is at St. Joseph Cemetery, Bedford, at the convenience of the family.

Lambert Funeral Home & Crematory, Manchester is assisting the family with arrangements. Click here to sign the guestbook.