Last January, I read that Dr. John Mendelsohn, president emeritus of The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, had died at his home in Houston, sadly of brain cancer – the disease he worked to cure his entire career. He was 82. The world had lost a remarkable individual.
His passing touched my heart. Not just because Dr. Mendelsohn led MD Anderson to become the #1 ranked cancer center in the world for five straight years. Or that he’d built a powerful culture among his employees based on the core values of caring, integrity and discovery. Or that he’d increased annual revenue at MD Anderson from $726 million to $3.1 billion and increased private philanthropic support ten-fold to $2 billion raised. No, it was more than that.
During Dr. Mendelsohn’s tenure as president of MD Anderson, my husband Chet was diagnosed with cancer. During his treatment at MD Anderson, Chet and I experienced firsthand the leading therapies and compassionate care delivered to each patient. Today, Chet is healthy and teaches at the University of Houston Bauer College of Business. In 2017, Chet and I were two of the three co-chairs (with Yan Anthea Zhang of the of the Jones Graduate School of Business at Rice University) of the Strategic Management Society’s annual conference in Houston. Dr. Mendelsohn was selected as the recipient of the society’s Lifetime Achievement Award. Unfortunately, he was unable to attend because of his cancer. His wife and son came in his place and Chet shared Dr. Mendelsohn’s achievements with the SMS audience before presenting the award to his family. It was powerful on so many levels!
I invite you to read this lovingly written tribute to Dr. Mendelsohn from MD Anderson. Cancer patients and their families all over the the world are forever grateful to Dr. Mendelsohn and those he led and inspired. Read about his life well lived here >