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In Memory: Donna Alford Lansing, 1929-2021

June 23, 2021

Photo of Donna Alford Lansing (1929-2021) with her husband, Dr. Allan Lansing

Donna Alford Lansing, who with her husband, Dr. Allan Lansing, created a tremendous legacy at Bellarmine University through their guidance and generosity, died peacefully on June 22, 2021.
 
Mrs. Lansing was born in London, Ontario, Canada, in 1929, the second of four children of an electrician and a homemaker. She excelled in high school and had many interests outside of her studies, including sewing her own clothes and playing piano. After high school, she went to the University of Western Ontario (now Western University) in London. It was there that she met her future husband, Allan Lansing, while he was performing magic tricks at a party. 
 
They decided to marry upon her graduation in 1951 with a Bachelor of Arts, and she created her own sophisticated wedding gown. While Allan Lansing finished medical school at Western, Donna Lansing worked in the actuarial department at London Life Insurance Company.
 
The couple moved back and forth from Canada to the United States several times while Allan Lansing continued his academic and surgical training, including getting a Ph.D. in physiology. They started a family in 1954, eventually raising a son and two daughters.
 
In 1963, the family permanently settled in Louisville so Dr. Lansing could practice transmyocardial revascularization (TMR) heart surgery, a revolutionary procedure that uses a laser to drill holes in the heart to increase the blood supply for patients whose angina can be corrected in no other way. 
 
Donna Lansing designed and coordinated the building of a new home and served as interior designer for that home and for her husband's medical offices at Norton Audubon Hospital, where Dr. Lansing worked until his 2001 retirement.
 
The Lansings became involved with Bellarmine in the early 1980s through Dr. Lansing’s friendship with Maurice “Maury” D.S. Johnson, who was president of Citizens Fidelity Bank (now PNC) and a member of the Bellarmine Board of Trustees, and with whom Dr. Lansing played doubles tennis every Sunday. Mr. Johnson brought Dr. Lansing together with Dr. Eugene Petrik, Bellarmine’s second president, to discuss a new nursing school the university wanted to open. The Lansings were very supportive of this initiative, and the school was named the Donna and Allan Lansing School of Nursing in 1982 in appreciation of their support. (Since 2017, the Lansing School of Nursing and Clinical Sciences has been part of Bellarmine University’s College of Health Professions.) 
 
In 1983, the Lansings bought the historic home of Boxhill on a bluff over the Ohio River, which at the time was unoccupied and in need of renovation. Donna Lansing restored Boxhill to its former grandeur and later added a large sunroom and an outdoor swimming pool. The Lansings held many functions there, including fundraisers for charities and other organizations, as well as yearly Derby and Christmas parties, with Donna Lansing doing all of the planning and cooking.
 
The Lansings gifted Boxhill to Bellarmine University in 2015 through a planned gift called a life estate contract. This followed their 1998 donation of a 130-year-old house and 3.2 acres in Glenview that was used as the President’s Home until the death of Dr. Joseph J. McGowan, Bellarmine’s third president.
 
Dr. Lansing served on the Bellarmine Board of Trustees from 1983-2004, including a term as chairman in 1987-88. Among many scholarship funds that he and Donna Lansing established over the years at Bellarmine is the Lansing Scholars Program, which, through the Norton Hospital Foundation, helps to cover selected Bellarmine University students while they work toward their degrees in nursing and the health sciences. Upon graduation, Lansing Scholars begin their careers at Norton Healthcare and are eligible to have their loans forgiven. 
 
In 2015, the university dedicated the Donna and Allan Lansing Learning Commons, a study space on the first floor of the W.L. Lyons Brown Library. The centerpiece is a diorama that honors their lives through items curated from a vast collection of personal papers, photographs and honors that they generously donated to Bellarmine.   
 
Because of her inherited otosclerosis with hearing loss, Donna Lansing was also a strong supporter of the Louisville Deaf Oral School. Above all, she was proud of helping her husband be the accomplished man he became. She will be remembered for her intelligence, beauty, multiple talents and outgoing personality.
 
In addition to her husband of almost 70 years, Donna Lansing is survived by her children, all of whom pursued careers in healthcare: Peter Lansing, an anesthesiologist; Michele Lansing Flowers, a surgical nurse; and Ann, an internist specializing in geriatrics. She is also survived by her sister Marilyn and brother Peter, seven grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.
 
Visitation will be at Pearson's, 149 Breckenridge Lane, from 3-7 p.m. June 25. The funeral and burial will be private. In lieu of flowers, contributions in Donna Lansing’s memory may be made to the Lansing Family Legacy Fund at Bellarmine University, the Louisville Deaf Oral School Foundation and Hosparus Health Louisville.
 
 

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