Robert Bolande died on Saturday, Dec. 9, 2006 in Charlotte, NC, after a brief illness
following several years of decreased mobility that he referred to as Parkinson Disease. Bob's
professional life, lovingly portrayed by his long time friend and colleague, Thomas A. Seemayer
(Perspectives in Pediatric Pathology 22, 6 10, 1999) took him from Northwestern University Medical School
to Children's Memorial Hospital in Chicago to Case Western Reserve University College of Medicine in
Cleveland, OH, to Children's Hospital in Akron, OH, to The Montreal Children's Hospital, and finally to
East Carolina School of Medicine in Greenville, NC, until he retired to Charlotte in 1998.
Throughout his changes in work environment, he maintained his restless, inquisitive spirit with concepts
and achievements any one of which many of us would be pleased to have as a lifetime accomplishment: his
ground breaking text Cellular Aspects of Developmental Pathology (1967), the recognition and naming of
the unique renal tumor of infancy, Congenital Mesoblastic Nephroma (1967), the unifying concept of
disorders of neural crest migration The Neurocristopathies (1974), the relationship between oncogenesis
and teratogenesis, and, with his colleagues, immunopathies and graft versus host disease. His approach
to incisive thought in medicine was presented in his Sidney Farber lecture, Creative ideation and inquiry
in developmental pathology (Perspectives in Pediatric Pathology 12: 10 19, 1988).
Bob had been a founding member of the Pediatric Pathology Club in the mid 1960s but we did not work together
until 1970 when we met to plot and scheme the production of a new publication dedicated to the then
esoteric discipline of pediatric pathology. Our scheme had a long gestation, Volume 1 of Perspectives in
Pediatric Pathology appeared in 1973 and then more or less annually as we chose to define annual.
Following the excitement of beginning our project, after several volumes, Bob grew bored with the routine
of reading and rewriting manuscripts and left as editor to return to his personal creative ways. He and
I remained close through a number of personal and professional highs and lows with periodic meetings but
mostly by telephone. Despite my urging, he refused to indulge in e mail. When he wanted to speak to me,
he would leave a message on my answering machine: "Harvey, I want to talk to you." No name and no
return phone number. When I reached him it was always that same hearty laugh that made me wonder how I
missed the point of the joke. He spoke proudly of his daughters and son and kept up with my family and
then got on with whatever was on his mind. Not always understanding, I was always pleased to listen. As
all of us must do, he is gone, but his legacy remains.
Following Dr. Robert Bolande's departure on Dec. 9, 2006, many colleagues and friends contributed some memories and anecdotes related to Bob that followed Dr. Harvey Rosenberg's excellent IN MEMORIAM in honoring him. All the additional contributions related to one or more aspects of Bob's brilliance, intellect, achievements in service and research and, yes, the many facets of his quiet personality. Since there would be no need to be repetitive, I decided to mention a few less known features of his life.
Years ago Bob and I were sharing a taxi, returning to the hotel after one of our Society's meetings (I believe this was an Interim Meeting). In the course of the long drive and an animated discussion, I said, "Bob, I believe that you should "spread your wings" and colossal intellect by moving to a large, and academically prominent and vital centre." (No offence was intended to belittle Akron!). At once Bob reacted: "Which centers do you have in mind?" My reply was that both The Children's Hospital in Montreal and The Sick Children's in Toronto are looking for replacements of their chiefs in Pathology. And would he consider moving to Canada? In proposing this (I must admit) I was not only recognizing the enormous potential of Bob, but had a "burning" wish for us in Canada to acquire as a chief of those institutions someone who would be able to renew and revitalize the spirit and activities of these slightly dimming flames. At the end of our taxi-voyage, Bob agreed that I nominate him for the post in Montreal (he would have preferred Toronto's Sick Kids, but that hospital had already begun negotiations with someone else). The Chairman of the Department at McGill at that time was Professor Robert More, my own mentor (and later close colleague) from my times as a trainee and as a faculty member at Queen's University, and he was delighted to appoint Bob, both as Chief at Children's Hospital and Professor of Pathology at McGill University. It was August 1972 when the former Chief (and also one of the 3 Canadian Founding Members of the Pediatric Pathology Club of 1965), Dr. F. Wigglesworth retired and Bob took over in early September of the same year. The following years at The Montreal Children's Hospital, not only in the Department of Pathology, but in other disciplines experienced a "fresh mind blowing" with novel ideas and activities - all permeated by Bob's spirit and intellect. This was a "golden age" of the Hospital and University alike, and much of it was inspired by Bob. Now we had in Canada, too, a modern centre for Pediatric Pathology. With sadness we learned that Bob decided to return to the USA but his spirit lived on for a long time.
An important characteristic of Bob's nature was his humane and generous attitude towards his fellow man, particularly towards his colleagues in need. One cannot forget an example of the latter. As we met for the Annual Meeting of the PPC in Washington in 1976 (under the auspices of the IAP) Bob met Dr. Bogdan Wozniewicz, the paediatric pathologist from Warsaw, Poland, who succeeded to obtain permission from the (then Soviet Union-dominated) government to attend, but without any financial support. Learning of the details and the inability of Dr. Wozniewicz to return home for lack of travel expenses, Bob took him under his wing. He not only covered these expenses from his private funds, but also invited his Polish colleague for a lengthy visit in Montreal on his return trip to Poland.
Yes, this was our dear friend and colleague, and we miss him very much.
- M. Daria Haust
It was with deep regret that I learned in the SPP Newsletter of the death of Bob Bolande. I appreciated the comments made by some of my colleagues about him. May I share some more thoughts about him with you?
In later life, one sees the contributions and lasting memories of gifted people like Bob. I remember him as a probing intellectual, yet warm person, who was kind to me when I needed it most. Bob helped me move from a dynamic pediatric pathology/immunology program under highly respected Bruce Beckwith in Seattle to the East because I had suddenly acquired some newly-urgent family needs in the opposite end of the country. He allowed me to continue my educational-scientific pursuits in Akron, for he had set up a dynamic, academic department himself at the Children's Hospital there. He had an electron microscope in the mid 1960's (!), and he had recruited Art Weinberg and Howard Igel to run state of the art clinical and virology laboratories. Art moved to become chief in Dallas and Howard became chief in Akron when Bob moved to Montreal. Each developed major teaching institutions in their respective medical school centers. One should note that a major contribution of any academic leader is the seeds which he/she plants in the soil of academia, and Art and Howard are a part of that harvest generated by Bob.
Bob was also at the heart of the movement to develop pediatric pathology as a specialty. He kindly introduced me to many of the members of the "Ped Path Club", and I have been a member for over 35 years.
Bob was also a Renaissance man. He delved in art, philosophy, and asked questions beyond the realm of medicine. I still have a copy of a Chagall which he proudly displayed in his office.
Above all, I shall remember Bob and his family as warm and giving at a time I needed that emotional support. He and his wife Sue invited me numerous times to his "farm" north of Akron, and I became sort of an extended family of his. I am somewhat of a sentimental person so I have saved some of those pictures of me with his children, his wife, and his farm animals from those long-lost but most memorable days.
So let me say, where ever you are: Thanks, Bob.
- Marv Platt
It was a pleasure to have met Bob Bolande, in any capacity , but especially as a young pathologist newly arrived from elsewhere trying to establish a career in North America. Prior to arriving in Canada I had corresponded briefly with Dr Bolande, because he had some fanciful idea that I might have something to offer the Department that he was trying to build in Montreal children's. I had , however, been lured elsewhere. At the first meeting of the Pediatric Pathology Club that I was able to attend ( Washington DC 1973) I was very warmly greeted by Bob Bolande who ( along with Gene Perrin and Daria Haust ) then made sure that I was introduced to almost all the members( there were less than 100 then , if my memory serves me right). A greater boost to my confidence could not be imagined , and when this was followed by an invitation to express myself in Perspectives shortly thereafter, I was walking on air! As Harvey Rosenberg has said Bob was a founding member of what is now the SPP - but he was also a great innovator and inspirational force to so many of us .However as Spike Milligan said on a very different occasion , "It is nice to be great , but greater to be nice". Bob was a winner on both counts.
- Derek de Sa
Various circumstances determined that my friendship with Bob Bolande should not have sprung as early, or grown as close, as I would have liked. I was only a resident, when already he was recognized as one of the leading figures of our specialty. By the time I started my academic career in pediatric pathology, his own authority in the field was fully consolidated at national and international levels. He is acknowledged as one of the founders of the corporate group that today encompasses and officially subsumes all the practitioners of this discipline, the SPP. In Bob Bolande's time, however, the Society was begun under the homely and unassuming name of a "Club" -designation that he, like other colleagues members of his generation, used to miss, as denoting a smaller, more interactive and more closely knit group. Age unfailingly imparts nostalgia, I suppose, for simpler and calmer days gone by.
As a foreigner, and newly arrived into the group, I was properly deferential when I chanced to encounter him at meetings. He was usually surrounded by his friends, students, and associates, and at the time my personal circumstances inclined me toward demureness and timidity. Furthermore, our respective worksites were separated by half a continent. All this left scarce opportunity for mutual acquaintance.
Then, something unforeseen happened. He took interest in my writing. I had mentioned his name and some of his work in a published essay which he found much to his liking. He wrote to me with his comments and suggestions, and an epistolary exchange followed, punctuated by some telephone calls. This unsuspected turn revealed to me the man, whereas until then I had known only the scientist and the scholar. I heard him discourse on life and friendship, and vastly expound on his worldly experience. He spoke with pride of his son, whom he described as fluent in Chinese mandarin and an old hand in the ways of the Far East. Bob's views were always keen and incisive, his attitude jovial, and his conversation generously sprinkled with savory anecdotes and jokes which he often ended with short, high-pitched guffaws of laughter. This, even when late in the course of his life he came upon serious difficulties -for life is always difficult- of work, and health, and interpersonal relationships, which would have overwhelmed anyone with less than his mettle and buoyancy.
I was most agreeably surprised when he sent to me a book which he had written, but never published. Not a scientific monograph or a pathology text, but a collection of short stories. Yes: this thinker to whom the world owes the recognition of the pathology and clinical behavior of mesoblastic nephroma, and such concepts as allow to approach complex biomedical problems in potentially fecund ways, also directed his creativity toward producing literary short stories. In "The Collected Stories of R. P. Bolande," which he had meticulously bound (the cover containing a handsome drawing by one of his daughters, as I remember he told me), I seem to hear again, in his jocular tone, some of the droll stories that triggered his laughter. His stories range from the delicate to the grotesque, and from those that are pure merriment to those that induce serious reflections. The bound manuscript is patent proof that Bob Bolande possessed an eminently creative mind, whose irrepressible activity had to find some outlet. He seems to have found it in the spectacle of the world -whether scientifically or artistically considered.
I will always regret that, when his letters became more sporadic, I did not try more vigorously to renew the contact. I was afraid of hearing bad news. Now, re-reading his stories, I evoke his presence and realize the immensity of the loss.
- Frank Gonzales-Crussi
Sorry to hear of Bob's death. He was a good friend. I first met him as the founding baby member of the PPC in Boston, as I recall, way back when we had the dinner with Dr. Farber. He educated me regarding the compensation of pediatric pathologists. He will be greatly missed.
- Joe Brough
I first met Bob as a freshman medical student at Western Reserve University School of Medicine and was little aware that he would help shape the course of my life. He lectured on the subject of pulmonary pathology. Locus minoris resistentiae was his explanation for the development of secondary bronchopneumonia and this phrase became the title for one of the songs written for our senior class skit. Bob reappeared during my pediatric internship where he made weekly "ward rounds" with the chairman of pediatrics, an activity that few of us would ever consider undertaking. But Bob enjoyed this clinical interaction and his combined rounds were a much anticipated and stimulating intellectual experience for the pediatric house staff. He showed me that there was a place in the world for someone called a Pediatric Pathologist. I recall the stacks of 3 x 5 cards strewn over his desk in a cramped office in the Institute of Pathology as he labored over the Cellular Aspects of Developmental Pathology, which was published in 1967. As the title suggests, this was not meant to be a book of descriptive morphology, but rather it was Bob's attempt to go beyond description and to present his understanding of the underlying mechanisms of disease in the context of the developing child. He delighted in telling us that his editor's name was Mr. Money. It was with Bob that I shared a car ride to Pittsburgh PA to attend my first meeting of the Pediatric Pathology Club, a most collegial group, which he helped found in 1965. Bob's move to Akron in 1967 allowed him to buy a home with a small barn and sufficient land to raise his beloved horses. He was a modest man, often deeply in thought. He had a distinctive laugh and a twinkle in his eye, a glimpse of which is seen in the photograph above. Not all of Bob's postulates proved correct and a few were well off the mark, but he dared to think of things in new ways and challenged others to do the same. I am grateful to have known him.
- Art Weinberg
Bob Bolande was Director of the Department of Pathology at the Montreal Children's Hospital when I was summonsed by my training Director, at McGill, to go and take my pediatric Pathology rotation. It was my last chance, or else, I was told, as I only had two months left before I became an 'adult' pathologist knowing it all. So, reluctantly, I complied with what I thought would be a waste of time. Who needs to see macerated fetuses, liquefied brains, and bloody placentas!
In those two months, May and June 1973, Bob managed to make a convert out of me. He was talking to me about things I had never heard before, such as nephroblastomatosis, neurofibromatosis, angiomatosis, fibromatosis and phacomatosis, not to forget the neurocristopathies. He threw me in the EM room and said: go learn it! He reminded me of Pasteur's saying that chance rewarded the prepared mind. He showed me the significance of Knudson's theory. He sensitized me to the beauty of experimental endeavor, citing the simple but elegant experiment of his mentor, Gallblatt clamping the renal artery. I was sold! I accepted his offer for a fellowship year, during which he taught me what a pathologist's role was, what a pediatric pathologist really meant, and laid the foundations for everything I have learned since and then transmitted to my students, residents and fellows. We are many who owe him a lot. Bob, you did a great job!
- Jean-Pierre de Chadarêvian
Bob Bolande, a founding member of our Society and a real scholar, was Chief Resident in Pathology at Western Reserve at the time I was a medical student. I barely survived his final Gross Examination in the course when he quizzed me on specimens with colonic diverticula and a Gaucher spleen. It is of historical interest that five of the pathology residents at WRU at that time all became Chairmen and leaders in American Pathology and medical education. I was so privileged to be a student with those guys !!!!!! We shall miss Bob but always revere his memory!!!!!!!!
- Bill Bradford
I had the privilege of knowing and loving Bob Bolande, a most competent, modest, member of our Pediatric Pathology community since his residency days. I recently listed him as a necessary reference in one of my civic organizations with his permission. He sounded somewhat distant (this was about four or five months ago), but giving and friendly in his modest way. He said that he was functioning, with no details. He was a productive, consistent, admirable, caring physician and knew how to say "you're full of it" in most conciliatory ways when discussing difficult diagnoses or conditions. I feel, as I have about many of my recently departed Pediatric Pathology brothers and sisters, very sad that I did not try harder to enrich our old friendship with converstion, visits, consultations, publications. Let this be a lesson to all of us, conversation and promises are not enough.
- Eugene V.D. Perrin
To the generation of pediatric pathologists that followed him,
Bob Bolande was a source of inspiration.
- Ron Jaffe
If you wish to add a few words, an anecdote, or a comment to this memorial page,
please send it to Robert Ruiz.