Lyle A. French
1976, New Orleans
Lyle A. French was born in Worthing, South Dakota, March 26, 1915. His early years were spent in Lennox and Watertown, South Dakota. His family then moved to Mankato, Minnesota, where he graduated from high school. He attended Macalester College in St. Paul, where he obtained his premedical education. He then entered the University of Minnesota, where he received his B.S., M.B., and M.D. degrees, the latter being bestowed in 1940. He received his training in neurological surgery at the University of Minnesota under the guidance of Dr. William T. Peyton. Following an interruption by military service in the North African and European theatres during World War II, he completed his training in 1947, at which time he was also awarded M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in neurological surgery.
After completion of his formal training in neurosurgery, Dr. French was appointed to the neurosurgical faculty of the UniVersity of Minnesota. In 1952, he was promoted to associate professor, and in 1957 to professor. Under his guidance the Division of Neurological Surgery achieved departmental status, and he served as chairman of the department until 1974.
In recognition of his administrative capabilities, Dr. French was elected chief of staff, University Hospitals and served from 1968 to 1970. In 1970 he was appointed vice president for health science affairs at the University of Minnesota, a position which he currently holds.
Dr. French is a member of the Society of Neurological Surgeons. He served as president of the Neurosurgical Society of America in 1957 to 1958, president of the American Academy of Neurological Surgery in 1972 to 1973, and president of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons in 1973 to 1974. He was consultant to the Surgeon General, United States Army, 1963 to 1975, and was appointed consultant in neurosurgery to the Veterans Administration in 1968. He was a member of the American Board of Neurological Surgery from 1962 to 1968 and served on the Board of Editors of the Journal of Neurosurgery from 1970 to 1975. He was chairman of the Board of Editors of the Journal of Neurosurgery from 1973 to 1975. He has been a member of the Advisory Council, National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Neurological Diseases and Stroke, since 1971. Dr. French is currently a member of the Board of Governors of the American College of Surgeons. He is on the Board of Editors of the Yearbook of Cancer and is a member of numerous other national and international organizations.
Under his leadership as vice president for health science affairs at the University, the health sciences have undergone a steady and extensive growth and building program. This growth and development of the health sciences reflects, among other administrative attributes, Dr. French's effectiveness and capabilities in dealing with the state legislature and the federal bureaucracy.
Though his accomplishments as vice president for health science affairs have been prodigious, Dr. French is best characterized as a master neurosurgeon and as an outstanding and dedicated teacher.
His interest in teaching has encompassed all levels. He has always found it most important to bring neurosurgery to the undergraduate, as demonstrated by his personal attention to student lectures and contact on ward rounds.
At the graduate level, Dr. French created an atmosphere of creativity and curiosity. He has an incomparable capacity to bring out the best in his residents and colleagues. Above all he provided them with the opportunity and encouragement to employ their creativity and pursue their ideas. It is understandable then that Dr. French was involved in the early development of radionuclear isotope encephalometry, ultrasonic brain scanning, fundamental studies on the ultrastructure of cerebral edema, and the effects of steroids on brain edema.
As a surgeon Dr. French is a master technician. This is well established in the minds of colleagues and residents who have worked closely with him. He has contributed many published experiences on the surgical management ofintracranial vascular lesions, brain tumors, pain, and seizure disorders. He also participated in the early development of endocrine ablative surgery in the management of breast cancer. He was quick to see the importance of stereotaxis in neurosurgery, and early on instituted such a program at the University Hospitals. He was elected vice president of the International Society of Stereoencephalotomy in 1967.
In 1941, Gene Richmond and Lyle French were married. Gene was originally from Paris, Missouri, and was a graduate of the University of Missouri at Columbia. Gene is a most charming lady and a devoted wife. She has always been at Lyle's side and has shared equally in the frustrations and rewards of the Professor. She has provided much support and encouragement to him. Gene and Lyle have three children, Fred, Eldridge, and Barbara, who carry with them the same warm and friendly traits as their mother and father. Fond and nostalgic memories remain in the minds of residents, colleagues, friends, and guests who have visited in the home of the French family.
As a college student, Dr. French was an outstanding athlete excelling in basketball and golf. He remains a superb golfer and enjoys hunting and fishing with many of his friends and colleagues.
It was a great privilege for the Congress of Neurological Surgeons to have Dr. Lyle A. French, a master neurosurgeon, an outstanding teacher, and a highly skilled administrator, as the honored guest at its 26th annual meeting in October 1976.