William J. Reals, MD 1920-2002
Former CAP president William J. Reals, MD, died Nov. 12. He was 82.
"He was an extremely intelligent individual who had superb leadership
qualities," says Tyra Hutchens, MD, also a former CAP president.
"In almost any organization that he became involved with, he rose
to the top."
Dr. Reals served as secretary-treasurer and vice president of
the College before being elected president in 1971. He was recognized
with the CAP Pathologist of the Year Award in 1974 and the CAP/ASCP
Distinguished Service Award in 1982, and he was made a life fellow
of the College in 1981. Dr. Reals was also a past-president of the
American Board of Pathology.
At the time of his death, Dr. Reals was professor emeritus at
the University of Kansas School of Medicine. Prior to his retirement,
he served as dean and vice chancellor for the Wichita campus, which,
in 1985, created the William J. Reals Gallery of Art. Dr. Reals
had also served as director of laboratories and vice president for
medical affairs at St. Joseph Medical Center, Wichita.
A World War II U.S. Army veteran, Dr. Reals served as a medical
in the U.S. Air Force during the Korean War and remained in the
Force Reserve for 27 years before retiring in 1980 with the rank
of brigadier general.
Dr. Reals, a licensed pilot and an internationally renowned expert
in aviation accidents, was the chief pathologist for the 1977 collision
of two jumbo jets on Tenerife in the Canary Islands, which killed
583 people and is considered the greatest loss of life in a single
airplane accident. He was the author of two books on aviation safety,
Medical Investigation of Aviation Accidents and Aerospace
Pathology, both published by the CAP.
Dr. Reals’ colleagues, however, remember him for more than his
professional accomplishments. "I first met him when I was a resident
and my chief of service took me along to a cancer conference," says
former CAP president Loyd Wagner, MD. At dinner one evening, Dr.
Wagner objected to his boss’ racist remarks and was fired on the
spot. Dr. Reals was at the table. "I left the table and thought,
’Well, what am I going to do now?’" recalls Dr. Wagner. "And Dr.
Reals talked to my chief and said, ’You can’t do that.’ So the next
morning I had my job back and an apology."
Dr. Hutchens remembers Dr. Reals’ role in converting the CAP Assembly
into the present House of Delegates and in restoring the financial
health of the College in the early ’70s. "Although he had strong
opinions, they were usually right, and he was able to work with
people to get things accomplished," says Dr. Hutchens.
Perhaps Dr. Reals’ most enduring contribution to the College is
the Laboratory Accreditation Program, which was conceived in unusual
circumstances. In 1983, Dr. Reals recalled that "Jim Barger [James
Barger, MD] and I together evolved the concept [of the LAP] at the
meeting of the College which was held at the Palmer House. Unbelievable
as it may seem, we stepped out from one of the hallways during a
noisy session and wrote the resolution standing on a fire escape
25 stories above Chicago."
Dr. Reals is survived by his wife, Norma; sons William Jr., Thomas
(also a physician), and John; daughters Ann and Mary; and 18 grandchildren.