Francisco Cardenas, MD

francisco cardenas, md
Francisco Cardenas, 89, went home to the Lord on January 14, 2023, after an extraordinary life well-lived in which he touched the lives of hundreds in the Washington metropolitan area in his three decades as a physician and general surgeon.

Francisco was born in Medellín, Colombia, and emigrated to the United States in 1958 with his young bride, Flor Maria, who predeceased him.

Here, he began a decades-long affiliation with Georgetown University School of Medicine and Arlington Hospital (today the Virginia Hospital Center), where he rose to the position of Chief Surgeon.

Francisco earned many awards and widespread recognition for his surgical skills and innovations in his field and was beloved by the hundreds of medical students who trained under him, as he was a pioneer in ushering more "hands-on" training over classroom instruction for medical students.

His mantra was "If I hear, I forget. If I see, I remember. If I do, I understand."

Not only was he a very talented surgeon but was also widely known for his compassionate care and extraordinary bedside manner.

Francisco was a dedicated father who supported his children in every imaginable way -- no matter how weary following long days treating patients. He brought his love of soccer to the area through coaching and was instrumental with others in popularizing youth soccer in Northern Virginia.

Francisco leaves behind a loving family: sons Juan (Beatriz), José (Tina), James (Deb), Louis (James), and daughter Mariana, and eight grandchildren Julita, Juan Antonio, Cristina (Ryan), Alejandro, Mariel, Sofia, Christopher, and Marissa, who were the joys of his life.

In lieu of flowers, the family would greatly appreciate a donation to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society in memory of Francisco's beloved wife, Flor Maria.

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Memories Timeline


  1. The Owners and Staff at the Money and King Funeral Home, wish to express our sincere sympathy to you. It is our hope that we may be able to make a difficult time more bearable. Please feel free to call us anytime as we are always available to you.

    Bob Gallagher
    Funeral Director

  2. When I was a freshman in college my mom needed surgery. I was so scared. Dr. Cardenas was her surgeon and I remember her telling me what a kind and caring doctor he was. Mom did very well after surgery and resumed her normal life soon thereafter thanks to Dr. Cardena’s superb surgical skills.

    Years later, I saw him weekly at Mass as our families attended the same parish -OLGC.
    His family is as wonderful and kind as he was.
    From my family to yours, we extend our deepest condolences. God bless him and all of you. Peace be with you all.

    Maria Gupta and family

  3. We would like to express our sincere condolences to our son-in-law Lou and the entire Cardenas family on the passing of their beloved dad. We pray that the exemplary life he lived and the beautiful memories you have will be a comfort to you forever. Our Deepest Sympathies, Most Sincerely, Mary and Jim Lumalcuri

  4. Frank Cardenas was a physician for the ages, exquisitely trained at Georgetown and exceptionally talented as a surgeon. But his most admirable trait was his bedside manner. My first wife, Mary, was stricken with colon cancer, and later died in the 70’s, when Frank worked tirelessly at what was then called “Arlington Hospital.” Irrespective of the time of my visits, it was not unusual to see Frank sitting on Mary’s bed — talking to her and trying his best to comfort her — not as a great surgeon — but as a greater human being.

    We have all lost a marvelous gentleman, in Frank Cardenas, MD, and thanks to my friend, Juan Cardenas, and the entire Cardenas family, for your loving care of Frank in his last days.
    Our loss has become Heaven’s blessing as Frank enjoys the Beatific Vision for all Eternity. RIP
    John J. Brandt

  5. It is with great sadness that my family says goodbye to Francisco, our dear friend for so many years. Our relationship with Francisco and his wife Flor María was so special, more like relatives, who shared so many events in times of happinesses, sorrow, special events and , yes, raising our children. There was never a dull moment. We were three families, the Restrepos, the Solanos and the Auñón who spent many activities with the Cárdenas. Francisco was a faithful and loving person and a physician who gave his best to his patients, always available and with such dedication and excellence.
    We are all very sad with his loss but rejoice knowing that Francisco and Flor are together again leaving a remarkable life of kindness, service, success and a commendable example to our families, friends and a community which held them in great respect and esteem.

  6. I first met Dr. Cardenas when I was a resident at Georgetown-I was also an immigrant physician having trained in Scotland.I felt an immediate bond with him and he was tremendously supportive and a great teacher when I returned as a Chief Resident in Arlington Hosp.I eventually went into practice with him and subsequently remained in Arlington for the next 35 years.I will be forever grateful for having our paths cross.My wife Mitzi and I send our sincere condolences to all his children and their families. John and Mitzi Sandiford

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