James LeVoy Sorenson was an American inventor and entrepreneur with a remarkable track record of innovation and a continuing interest in creating successful new businesses. With some 50 patents to his name, he has been recognized as a pioneer in the medical device industry for more than three decades.
Born in Rexburg, Idaho, in 1921, Sorenson was raised in Sacramento. In 1940 he accepted a basketball scholarship to Sierra College near Sacramento. He was later accepted to the U.S. Navy's prestigious medical school program, but chose instead to serve a mission in New England for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
After two years in the military, Sorenson began his professional career as a pharmaceutical salesman with the Upjohn Company. He was transferred to Salt Lake City to handle the region's sales, and has remained there ever since, with wife, Beverley, their eight children, 44 grandchildren and five great grandchildren.
It was while visiting a hospital in 1965 that Sorenson became inspired to dedicate his life to assisting people through his inventions. There, upon witnessing the tragic death of an 11-year-old boy, he became determined to improve medical devices and procedures.
In 1972 Sorenson founded Sorenson Research Company to manufacture and market innovative medical instruments. In just a few years, Sorenson became known worldwide as one of the leading providers of surgical and critical care products. (Abbott Laboratories bought the company, renaming it Abbott Critical Care Systems in 1980.)
Sorenson's revolutionizing inventions - allowing dramatic improvements in patient care - include the world's first disposable surgical filter masks as well as disposable venous catheters which eliminated the use of metal needles in the procedure. Also, Sorenson contrived catheter systems for monitoring conditions inside the human heart.
Sorenson continued his valuable contributions to the medical industry with aggressive research and development programs and contemporary inventions to the betterment of laser surgery, genetic research and analytical chemistry.
As a major contributor to business and technology, Sorenson, too, was a much-respected philanthropist. His inspiration for giving is rooted in his desire to promote peace and understanding between different peoples. An executive board member of the National Conference of Christians and Jews, Sorenson has encouraged outreach to the world's Muslim community.
Born and reared in humble circumstances, Jim Sorenson identified with the hopes and dreams of young students who are from similar modest backgrounds. His vision and financial support of SUU have made a major difference in the University's progress and development. His interest in a building that will provide multiple venues for strengthening the heart and mind symbolizes in part the many medical devices he has created to save and preserve life. Southern Utah University is profoundly grateful to Mr. Sorenson and his wife Beverley for their leadership and generosity.
James LeVoy Sorenson passed away after a long battle with cancer at the age of 86 on January 20, 2008 in Salt Lake City, Utah.