Dr. Allan Lansing, a pioneering cardiac surgeon, philanthropist, former Trustee and great friend to Bellarmine University, died on July 17, 2022. He was 92.
Both Dr. Lansing and his wife, Donna, who passed away on June 22, 2021, created a tremendous legacy at Bellarmine through their guidance and generosity.
The couple both attended the University of Western Ontario (now Western University) in Ontario, Canada, and met at a party where Allan Lansing was performing sleight-of-hand magic. They married in 1951.
They moved from Ontario, where Dr. Lansing was on the faculty at the University of Western Ontario, to Louisville in 1963 so that he could work as a cardiothoracic surgeon.
Eventually he practiced transmyocardial revascularization (TMR) heart surgery, a revolutionary procedure using a laser to drill holes in the heart to increase the blood supply for patients whose angina can be corrected in no other way. Norton Audubon Hospital, where Dr. Lansing worked until his 2001 retirement, is the leading center for the procedure in the world.
The Lansings first 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.
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 new College of Health Professions.)
A School of Nursing appealed to Dr. Lansing, who, throughout his career credited nurses with making him the doctor he was. “The doctor wouldn’t get anywhere without the nurses,” he said in a 2014 interview. “They are with the patients 24 hours a day. I come in five minutes in the morning and maybe 3 minutes at the end of the day. Doctors couldn’t do anything without the nurses who are looking after their patients, person-to-person, all day long.”
Among the many substantial scholarship funds that Dr. and Mrs. Lansing established over the years 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 1998, the Lansings donated a 130-year-old house and 3.2 acres in Glenview to be renovated and used as the President’s Home. Glenview was the Bellarmine Women’s Council’s Designers’ Show House in 2000, raising money for student financial aid. It was sold following the death of Dr. Joseph J. McGowan, Bellarmine’s third president.
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 that is adaptable to a variety of uses by individuals, pairs or groups. The centerpiece of Lansing Commons is a three-dimensional diorama that honors the life and career of Dr. Lansing through items curated from a vast collection of personal papers, photographs and honors that he donated to Bellarmine.
Asked in an interview what he hoped students in the Lansing Learning Commons would take away from his example, Dr. Lansing said, “If you want it bad enough, you can have anything. [Also], when they finish school, they are not finished learning…It is a continuous learning process.”
Also in 2015, the Lansings gifted their home, Boxhill, to the university through a planned gift called a life estate contract.
Dr. Lansing served on the Bellarmine Board of Trustees from 1983-2004, including a term as chair in 1987-88. He received an honorary doctorate from Bellarmine in 1985, and in 2004, he was appropriately honored as the “King of Hearts” at Bellarmine’s Knight of Knights event.
He also received numerous accolades for his work and his good works both here and abroad. He performed pro bono pediatric heart surgery on countless children in Central America and Eastern Europe, as well as more than 120 surgeries per year at Humana Audubon for people who could not pay for them. The presidents of four countries—the United States, the Dominican Republic, Panama and Romania—all bestowed upon him their countries’ President’s Medal, and he was chosen one of President Bush’s Points of Light in 1991.
In Louisville, he received the Distinguished Citizen Award and the Bell Award for Community Service.
Dr. Lansing was once asked how he thought he would be remembered when he retired, and he answered, “I hope that it will be [as] a very good surgeon, and a very caring person.”
“I tried as much as possible to treat the patient not as a patient, but as a person that I knew and understood. I just talked to them like a member of the family.”
His survivors include his three children, all of whom pursued careers in healthcare—Peter Lansing, an anesthesiologist; Ann Lansing, an internist specializing in geriatrics, and Michele Lansing Flowers, a surgical nurse —as well as seven grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren.
Visitation for Dr. Lansing will be held on Thursday, July 21, 2pm-7pm, at Pearson’s Funeral Home (149 Breckenridge Lane; Louisville, KY; 40207). A memorial service for Dr. Lansing will be held at 1 p.m. August 5 in Our Lady of the Woods Chapel.