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Family announces memorial service for Lasalle Leffall, Jr., MD

The oncologist and professor was the first African American president of ACS  

The family of LaSalle D. Leffall Jr., MD, FACS, announced that a memorial services to honor and celebrate the life of the esteemed surgeon will take place on Tuesday, June 25,  at 10 a.m. at the Washington National Cathedral, 3101 Wisconsin Avenue NW, Washington, D.C. 20016. 

Parking at the Cathedral is limited. Shuttle bus service will be provided from the Howard University main campus beginning at 8:30 a.m.

Dr.  Leffall, former president and Honorary Life Member of the American Cancer Society, died on May 25 at the age of 89. As the first African American national president of ACS in 1978-79, Dr. Leffall focused attention on the increasing cancer incidence and mortality rates among black men and women.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that contributions be made to the Dr. LaSalle D. Leffall Jr. Endowed Scholarship Fund, established in his honor, to benefit medical students in need that matriculate at the Howard University College of Medicine.

Dr. Leffall was was named an Honorary Life Member in 1987, and  received the American Cancer Society's Outstanding Young Man of the Year Award in 1965 and the Distinguished Service Award in 1984. A resolution honoring Dr. Leffall and his work will be presented to the American Cancer Society Board of Directors at its August meeting.

In an email to ACS and ACS CAN staff and top volunteer leadership, CEO Gary Reedy called Dr. Leffall, with whom he had the honor and privilege of both knowing and working with, "a kind and caring man, and one of the most eloquent public speakers I have known. "I remember fondly when LaSalle told me that the goal for living is to die young at the oldest possible age," Gary said. "His challenge to the American Cancer Society – that we do more to address cancer disparities – continues to inspire our health equity efforts today."

The long-time professor and oncologist at the Howard University School of Medicine was also the first African American president of other national organizations, including the Society of Surgical Oncology, the Society of Surgical Chairmen, and the American College of Surgeons. He lectured at more than 200 medical institutions across the country, taught more than 6,000 medical students, and trained more than 300 surgical residents.

For 25 years he chaired Howard's Department of Surgery, and in 1992  he was named the Charles R. Drew Professor, occupying the first endowed chair in the history of that department.

Dr. Leffall began volunteering for ACS during the civil rights era of the 1960s. It was during this time that he called upon our organization to "meet the challenge of cancer among black Americans" by focusing on disparities between black and white Americans in cancer prevalence, treatment, and mortality. During his tenure as president, he introduced a program to address the cancer burden among black Americans, focusing on incidence and mortality.  

Read his full obituary here. Also worth reading is a remembrance of Dr. Leffall published by Howard University. 

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