Society for Pediatric Pathology

In Memory of Our Departed SPP Members

Dr. Laurence Becker

Dr. Laurence Becker, Chief, Department of Paediatric Laboratory Medicine and Head, Division of Pathology at The Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Canada, died on July 17, 2002 after a full and happy life shortened by cancer.

Larry graduated from the University of Alberta Medical School (1967) and completed postgraduate specialization in neuropathology at the University of Toronto (U of T) and Johns Hopkins Medical School. He joined the U of T Faculty of Medicine, The Hospital for Sick Children (HSC) and Toronto General Hospital in 1974. In 1980, Larry was appointed Professor in the Department of Pathology, at U of T. He was the founding Chief of the Department of Paediatric Laboratory Medicine and was recently re-appointed for a second term as Chief. Larry was Chairman of the Medical Advisory Committee at HSC from 1996-2000 and contributed extensively to numerous hospital, university and international academic committees. Larry was considered a world authority on Pediatric Neuropathology. He authored over 300 publications, held numerous research grants, was an invited speaker at scientific meetings around the world and recipient of numerous awards and honors. In his years with the HSC, Larry fostered a strong academic environment, not only for colleagues, but also a network of international postgraduate trainees. He had a particular research interest in Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and was Chair of the Research Advisory Council for the Canadian SIDS Foundation.

Larry was well known to members of the SPP for his numerous contributions to pediatric neuropathology and studies on Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Many members benefited from his mentorship as Larry has trained the next generation of Pediatric Neuropathologists both in Canada and abroad. Larry was also active in the SPP organization and served as Councilor and member on various committees. The SPP Symposium in Pediatric Neuropathology held earlier this year in Chicago was dedicated to Larry in recognition of his many contributions to pediatric pathology. He was very appreciative of this honor so well deserved.

Larry loved traveling, theatre, opera, and was a collector of antiques and oil lamps. An avid runner, he participated in the Toronto marathon as well as other races.Larry has inspired family, friends and colleagues in many ways and he will live in our hearts forever.

In lieu of flowers, donations would be appreciated to establish lectureships in his name at The Hospital for Sick Children Foundation, 555 University Avenue, Toronto M5G 1X8 Canada, or the SIDS Foundation, 586 Eglinton Ave E, Ste 308, Toronto M4P 1P2 Canada.

A Message from Henry Krous, President, SPP:

I am sure I speak on behalf of the entire Society in expressing our profound sadness and sense of loss on the passing of one of our most distinguished members, Dr. Larry Becker, from the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto.

Larry was a rare combination of the consumate gentleman, treasured friend,insightful scholar, outstanding neuropathologist, inspiring teacher, and effective administrator. He was the ideal physician, a role model for all of us in so many ways.

I am sure many of us have fond memories of our experiences and friendship with Larry. In addition to many other experiences, I particularly remember a week with Larry in Australia where he dazzled us with his illuminating lectures, witty humor, great dancing - the best North America had to offer to those "down under" at a conference on SIDS that was markedly enhanced by Larry's contributions.

It is my hope that many of you will contribute to the lectureship to be established in his name at The Hospital for Sick Children. Donations to support the lectureship should be sent to The Hospital for Sick Children Foundation.

Our thoughts and prayers go to his family, friends and colleagues during these very sad times.

I have been away from work this week and have just come in to clear out some emails when I saw the news about Larry. I can't actually describe my feelings of sadness that such a great fellow has gone.

Larry was all that you said and more - his personal kindness and friendship was something that has touched so many people. I regard myself as privileged to have worked with him and to have known him as a friend - the world is certainly a much poorer place for his passing.

Roger Byard

Henry has spoken for all of us.

I treasured the opportunity to use Larry's great expertise and insight, over several consultations and general discussions. When I was in Hamilton, these were often done by phone calls as and when the thought occurred! Despite a busy schedule and the often inconvenient timing, Larry always found the time to be helpful, informative and collegial--a difficult demeanor to maintain if the supplicant is inclined to be argumentative, as did happen on occasion.

We have lost a great gentleman and colleague. It is nice to be great, but greater to be truly nice, and Larry was both.

Derek de Sa