Ben Landing was a great teacher and mentor who was blessed with a creative, fertile mind and a photographic memory. But he was a lot more than an intellect. He was REAL-very human and sincerely interested in his trainees and colleagues. He was reserved, but had a great sense of humor, often subtle, as with everything else about him. His modest demeanor and lack of arrogance made him approachable and easy to talk to. He was available to his trainees at any time. But he was no saint. He had enough foibles to make him interesting and human. He did not like administration or administrators. He was generous, but often to a fault. He smoked too much. His dichotomy of greatness and understated elegance is rarely encountered. We who had the privilege of working with him will not forget the legend or the man. Ben Landing's passing is sad, but his life was exhilarating.
Ben was a Gentle Man, slow to speak ill of others, fast to respond to the needs of others, and always available to participate, at his own expense, in meetings anywhere in the world. He amazed us with the depth and breadth of his knowledge, apparently never having forgotten a case, an anecdote, or a name in his entire life. Always able to put a novel spin on any conundrum, to place anatomical analysis on a physiological and functional basis, and to spot the abnormality we mortals had overlooked. Few if any of us were able to get close to Ben the Man, but all of us loved Ben the Teacher, Ben the Role Model, Ben the Inspiration.Yet part of Ben still lives in hundreds of us, and will be passed on to those we teach.
Ben was a legend in his own time and his passing leaves a tremendous void. But his legacy is phenomenal testimony to what one individual can accomplish, not only through his own research, but also through the mentoring of so many pediatric pathologists. I would not be surprised if Ben taught directly or indirectly a third of the pediatric pathologists in the entire world. Although far smarter than most of us and armed with a photographic memory, he was a gentle man of patient manner and never elevated his stature by denigrating his colleagues and trainees. He will be sorely missed, but dearly remembered.
(You may wish to reread Founders of Pediatric Pathology: Benjamin Harrison Landing by Beverly Dahms in Perspectives in Pediatric Pathology 1997;20:1-13)
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