Dr. Charles LeMaistre, former MD Anderson president, dead at 92

LeMaistre came to MD Anderson as president in 1978

HOUSTON - Dr. Charles Aubrey "Mickey" LeMaistre, a past president of the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, died Saturday in Houston, center officials said. He was 92.

Officials said after serving seven years as chancellor of the University of Texas System, LeMaistre came to MD Anderson as president in 1978.

"Mickey was one of the great icons of 20th century medicine who pushed boundaries, drove innovation and positioned MD Anderson to be the world's most impactful cancer center," MD Anderson President Ronald A. DePinho said. "His excellence is reflected to this day in the halls of our institution and in the countless lives saved around the globe."

LeMaistre led the institution through a period of growth in programs, personnel, facilities, private philanthropy and reputation, center officials said. One of his early decisions as president was establishing a cancer prevention program, which developed into an international model of research and service initiatives that advanced the science and application of cancer prevention and population sciences.

"Many individuals for generations to come will never experience the pain and suffering of cancer due to Mickey's efforts in cancer prevention," DePinho said.

Center officials said LeMaistre served as a young physician on the first U.S. Surgeon General's Advisory Committee on Smoking and Health, which, in 1964, issued its report identifying cigarettes as a major health hazard.

Smoking control was a part of LeMaistre's cancer prevention message when he was national president of the American Cancer Society in 1986. Center officials said he chaired the 1981 National Conference on Smoking OR Health, a coalition of 21 organizations, and the 1985 International Summit of Smoking Control.

From 1979 to 1983, LeMaistre was president of the Damon Runyon-Walter Winchell Cancer Fund, center officials said.

"Mickey's passing causes us to pause and remember his tremendous contributions to the growth and scope of MD Anderson," said Dr. John Mendelsohn, MD Anderson's third full-time president and director of the Khalifa Institute for Personalized Cancer Therapy. "MD Anderson experienced happy and productive years under Mickey's leadership, and I was fortunate to have the privilege of building upon his legacy when I succeeded him as president in 1996."

LeMaistre was named a life member of MD Anderson's Board of Visitors after retiring in 1996. Center officials said he also was recognized with the honorific title of chancellor emeritus by the UT System Board of Regents in 1994.

LeMaistre returned to MD Anderson in early 2006 as a part-time professor of behavioral science in the Division of Cancer Prevention and Population Sciences, which he founded years earlier. Center officials said he spent the next two years writing about tobacco-related issues, including the evolution of public policies on tobacco control; the book is will be published later this year.

LeMaistre is survived by his wife, Andreae. Center officials said other survivors are four children from his first marriage to Joyce, who died Dec. 5, 2003, six grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. They include two sons, Dr. C. Frederick LeMaistre, of Nashville, and William S. LeMaistre, of Houston; two daughters, Dr. Anne Philo LeMaistre, of Austin, and Helen Meyer, of San Antonio.

Funeral service information is pending. Center officials said memorial gifts may be made to the Charles Aubrey and Andreae LeMaistre Fund at MD Anderson: MD Anderson Cancer Center, P.O. Box 4486, Houston, Texas 77210-4486 or mdanderson.org/gifts.

Copyright 2017 by KPRC Click2Houston - All rights reserved.