College of American Pathologists
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  In Memoriam


CAP Today




June 2012
Feature Story

Howard M. Rawnsley, MD

Howard M. Rawnsley, MD, a former member of the CAP Board of Governors, died April 21 at age 86.

Dr. Rawnsley, who served as governor from 1985 to 1993, chaired many CAP councils and committees, including the Council on Practice Management, Council on Education and Membership, Awards Committee, and Workload Recording Committee. Most recently (2005–2010), he served on the CAP Foundation Board of Directors.

“Howard had a unique gift,” says Diana Kelker, executive director of the Foundation at the time. “He was inclusive, a consensus-based leader” who understood that consensus requires an evidence-based strategy. “Not many people even get this point, but he did,” she says. “That’s why he was so successful and well-liked.”

Former CAP president Mary Kass, MD, who also worked with Dr. Rawnsley on the Foundation Board, remembers him as “one of the few scholars that I have ever known.” For Jennifer Hunt, MD, now president of the CAP Foundation, Dr. Rawnsley was an important mentor who understood exactly how to challenge people, “kind and gracious and efficient and effective at the same time.”

George Lundberg, MD, editor-in-chief for CollabRx and editor-at-large for MedPage Today, worked with Dr. Rawnsley on the Workload Recording Committee. Dr. Lundberg remembers Dr. Rawnsley as someone who had “a true sense of what clinical medicine was all about and a profound feeling about medical ethics and its importance in all aspects of how doctors behaved.”

Dr. Rawnsley was an American Board of Pathology trustee (1988–1996) and a president of the Academy of Clinical Laboratory Physicians and Scientists (1977) and the Intersociety Pathology Council (1990). He was a longtime member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and he served on several committees of the American Board of Medical Specialties. He was a prolific writer and an active member of the American Society for Clinical Pathology, for which he planned educational conferences and served on its Future Technology Committee. He received the ASCP/CAP Distinguished Service Award in 1995.

Dr. Rawnsley’s postgraduate career began as a Woodward Fellow in Physiological Chemistry and then as a trainee at the American Cancer Society. From there, he returned to the University of Pennsylvania (where he had earned his MD) for training in pathology. He stayed on to become a professor of pathology and medicine, director of the William Pepper Laboratory, and medical director of the Department of Medical Technology, School of Allied Medical Professions (1968–1975). During this time, he was also the associate director (1960–1968) and then acting director (1969–1970) of the Clinical Research Center at the University of Pennsylvania.

Dr. Rawnsley moved to the Dartmouth Medical School in 1975; by 1980 he was professor and chair of the Department of Pathology. From 1987 until his 1994 retirement, he was a professor of pathology and senior vice president for medical affairs at the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center.

William F. Hickey, MD, a member of the CAP Board of Governors and a professor of pathology and neurology at Dartmouth, remembers Dr. Rawnsley as engaging, quick witted, and intelligent. “He had a broad base of knowledge, he knew a lot of people, and he had an infectious personality,” Dr. Hickey says. “It was always fun to be with Howard.”

Howard and Eileen Rawnsley were married for 44 years. The two met as volunteers on the SS Hope, a hospital ship sponsored by the People-to-People Health Foundation. When the Rawnsleys came to New Hampshire, Dr. Rawnsley continued a longtime commitment to the Red Cross, becoming chair of the New England Regional Blood Service Program. “People didn’t know how much he did and how hard he worked,” Eileen Rawnsley says.

“I think Howard would like to be remembered for the good that he did for the many people he helped, including myself,” Dr. Hickey says. “He had a benevolent view of humanity and life, and he was unequivocal in his dedication to pathology.”