Dr. LaSalle D. Leffall, Jr.: A Gifted Surgeon & Leader With a Deep, Wise Soul

May 26, 2019

By Susan Braun & Nancy G. Brinker

True leaders are rare.

People who can teach and inspire and make hard choices and persevere.  People who have unquestionable morals and dignity, extraordinary intelligence and compassion.  People who make you want to be the best you can be. And that only begins to describe Dr. LaSalle D. Leffall, Jr.

There is a lot we know about LaSalle.  His remarkable career as a surgeon. His deep love for his wife Ruth and son Donny. His holding of the first endowed surgery chair at Howard University, named for the venerable initiator of blood banking Dr. Charles Drew. Some knew that he was a great tennis player and a lover of jazz music. And those of us who were fortunate to work side by side with him know that he had a deep, wise soul — that he made our individual worlds better and indeed made this world a better place.

Dr. Leffall became Chair of the Board of the Komen Foundation in 1999 and served in that role until 2007. It was a time of terrific growth both in fundraising and in serving the mission to eradicate breast cancer. He had a true gift for both; he understood Komen could not fulfill its mission without substantial funding. And he knew that substantial funding is worthless without clear scientific vision and guidance. He offered those gifts every day to all who walked into the Komen door and all to whom he spoke about the important work of curing cancer. As a surgeon he knew exactly how important it was. And as a loving human he knew exactly why.

We will miss LaSalle, yet we will continue to be inspired by his work and will cherish the memory of doing that work with him, shoulder to shoulder.