In Memoriam: Dr. Manuel J. Coto
I am writing today to provide the somber news about the passing of a "lifetime" FUS member and our friend, Dr. Manuel (“Manny”) Coto.
He has had a long and respected career and been active within the Florida Urological Society throughout. He served as President of our society in 1987 – 1988. He played an active role within our State as well, including as a member of the Florida Board of Health.
I want to share with you one personal example of what a mentor he was for so many. He is the one who stimulated a young Dr. Hernan Carrion, who was in his second year on faculty at the University of Miami, to officially join the FUS society and become active in our state.
Dr. Coto is an example of tradition, advocacy, and I admire the fact he enjoyed a full career in the state of Florida. You will see an official notice on our website in the coming days.
The history of our society and its members will always be pivotal for our growth and migration into the future. He will be missed.
Rafael E. Carrion, MD
2017 – 2018 President
Florida Urological Society
Dr. Manuel J. Coto, a retired Central Florida urologist and leader in the Cuban-American community, died Tuesday of complications from stomach cancer. He was 82.
A past president of the Orange County Medical Society, Dr. Coto practiced privately in Orlando for more than 30 years, then transitioned to a part-time role at the V.A. Hospital, where he worked until full retirement in 2014.
His story is an immigrant story shared by so many in this country – one of sacrifice, hope and hard work, of leaving everything you know behind to begin anew in a foreign land.
Born in Guanabacoa, Cuba in 1935, and educated at the University of Havana, he was a practicing urologist when the Castro revolution upended Cuban society and his family was forced into exile.
In January 1962, he put his wife Norma and infant son on a plane to Tampa, uncertain if he would ever be able to join them. The Castro government was forcing doctors to stay behind, and Dr. Coto had no hope of being released. To this day, he does not know precisely how his papers came through, but he was able to join his family several weeks later.
His first work in the U.S. was as a resident physician in Plant City. After attending the University of Madrid for re-certification, he returned to Orlando, where he interned at Orange Memorial Hospital and was a resident until 1965.
From there, he built a successful private practice, Mid-Florida Urological Associates, where he was a founding partner for three decades. He pioneered various procedures in the area, including Lithotripsy for destroying kidney stones with sound waves.
His work at the V.A. was characterized by his love of Veterans and for his adopted country, of which he eventually became a proud citizen.
In addition to his work as a physician, Dr. Coto was an advocate for Latinos and served his city and state. He was Chairman of the Orlando Mayor’s Hispanic Advisory Committee from 1983-84 and served on the Florida Board of Medicine from 2003 to 2006. He was also president of the Pan-American Medical Association from 1991-92 and a member of the Florida Urological Society for most of his career.
Dr. Coto was a frequent contributor of guest columns to The Orlando Sentinel. Like so many of his generation, he was a collector of Cuban memories, stories and humor. A raconteur of the highest order. In 2012, the President of the Southeastern Section of the American Urological Association asked him to present a history of the Cuban presence in the organization dating to the pre-Castro years, when Cuba belonged to the AUA. His presentation was followed by a standing ovation.
Music, however, was his greatest passion. He recorded two self-published CDs, cataloguing the great Latin music hits of his era — and he was eager to share them. He was always looking for the nearest microphone or piano player, where he could regale any available audience with a rendition of a classic bolero.
Dr. Coto is preceded in death by his son, Jorge, who passed in 1998. He is survived by his wife, Norma, with whom he was married for 59 years, his sons Manny and Juan Carlos, daughter Normi and 11 grandchildren.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to Bishop Moore Catholic High School, online at www.bishopmoore.org — click on “Make A Gift” and be sure to add in memory of Dr. Manuel J. Coto in the subject line. Checks can also be sent to Bishop Moore Catholic High School, Advancement Office 3901 Edgewater Dr. Orlando, FL 32804.