It is with great sadness that I share the recent passing of an oncology icon, Dr. LaSalle D. Leffall, Jr. As said by Dr. Wayne Frederick, a mentee, surgical oncologist, and president of Howard University, “He was a surgeon par excellence, oncologist, medical educator, civic leader, and mentor to me and so many others.” 

I, too, was fortunate to be mentored by Leffall, who not only taught me about cancer, but also how to deliver the message to others. He was never too busy to talk and provided his cell phone number for me to call whenever I needed.

LaSalle D. Leffall, the Charles R. Drew Professor of Surgery, Howard University College of Medicine, was born May 22, 1930, in Tallahassee, FL, but grew up in Quincy, FL, attending its public schools. In 1948, at the age of 18, he was awarded a B.S. with greatest distinction (summa cum laude) from Florida A&M College.

In 1952, he received an M.D. degree from Howard University College of Medicine, ranking first in his class. Completing his surgical training at Freedmen’s Hospital, now Howard University Hospital, in 1957, he then took a surgical oncology fellowship at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center from 1957 to 1959.