Contributor: Peritz Scheinberg
As a medical student, resident and fellow, I knew Gene Stead at both Emory and Duke. Many of the stories about him are at least semi-apocryphal and have been told repeatedly. I witnessed most of these "Steadisms" and a few personal episodes. I don't think the legends are as important as what they conveyed about Gene as a clinician, investigator, teacher and man.
There is no doubt that he could be acerbic and intimidating in his style at times but what really came through was his compassion and dedication to the patient and his unrelenting drive to stimulate his residents and make them think!
He has always been bright, informed, incisive, demanding of himself and others, and absolutely without pretense. He was constructive and dedicated to his colleagues and staff and their growth and benefit, rather than his own ego. He never seemed to feel threatened and surrounded himself with clinicians and investigators who had specialty knowledge that he did not.
I am proud to have worked with Gene. He was the major influence in my professional life. As a young department chairman I tried to emulate his approach and characteristics -- the concept that the chairman's primary responsibility was to nourish the growth and ambitions of his faculty and residents. It was a great experience.
I salute and honor Gene. I hope that I will be around for his 100th birthday celebrations.