Mon, 17 Dec 2018
Dr Harry Walter Vincent Letts, 1929-2018
It is sad to report the passing of Harry Letts, who died on December 6, 2018 in Gatineau, Quebec at the age of 89. Harry was born in St. Lambert, Quebec, in 1929. He graduated from Sir George William’s College (now Concordia University) in Montreal in 1952 and University of Ottawa Medical School in 1957. After interning in Stamford, Connecticut, he completed his pathology residency at the University of Vermont and achieved board certification in general pathology on both sides of the border. After a brief stint working at Women’s College Hospital in Toronto, he moved to Edmonton in 1964, where he served as associate director of laboratories at the Royal Alexandra Hospital for 25 years. He was a loyal colleague and was always supportive of students who showed an interest in pathology. Harry, with his wife Margo, then retired to Bonnyville, AB and then later Gatineau.
Harry was very active in medical and pathology organizations in Alberta and across Canada. He served sequentially as secretary and president of both the Alberta Society of Pathologists and the Edmonton Academy of Medicine, and published a history of the latter organization. He was also a member of the board of the Alberta Medical Association and served on the Accreditation Committee of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta.
Harry served the Canadian Association of Pathologists in many ways, including a term as President (1979-1980), chairing its Residency Training Committee, editing its Newsletter, and acting as its archivist. Harry was an avid medical historian who published detailed histories of pathology for many Canadian provinces in the Newsletter, which will serve as important historical documents for future generations. Harry’s non-historical topics of interest for the Newsletter included workload measurement, general pathology vs specialization, and the importance of medical directorship of laboratories. He wrote editorials under the banner "Letts Go." His enduring interest was CAP history and he meticulously kept records every year which he ultimately transferred to the CAP Archives. He generously provided access to invaluable information in his personal files helping other historians of Canadian pathology. In fact, several of us co-authored historical essays with Harry, the last (describing the career of Royal Alex pathologist Morton E. Hall) was accepted for publication in the Journal of Medical Biography barely a week before his passing.
We all have fond memories of Harry. One of us was a like-minded lifelong friend, another followed him as CAP Curator, another was a former student whose life he greatly influenced, and another met him only late in life. He will be missed.
John Jacques, Guillermo Quinonez, Victor Tron, Jim Wright