Larry Librach seemed altogether too cheerful for a man who helped change the face of palliative care in Canada. You expected a sober, grave, elder-statesman. You got your favourite uncle — a playful man with a glint in his eye that told you a smile was never very far away. You may not have suspected that this man commanded respect around the world for his work in Canada.
Larry was the Director of the Temmy Latner Centre for Palliative Care for 20 years and its principal architect. He was one of the world’s leading experts in palliative care, and he personally helped shape Canada’s approach to palliative care and the discipline of palliative medicine.
And yet the way he told it, it all sounded more like a happy accident than a single-minded passion. You had to listen carefully to realize that nobody would have overcome the obstacles he described without huge reserves of energy and determination.
Larry was involved in palliative care for more than 30 years and built the Temmy Latner Centre from the ground up.
He brought his good-natured energy to everything he did. We don’t have the space to mention his many offices, awards, publications and distinctions. Suffice to say, Larry built the model for palliative care which shaped and continues to shape palliative care in Canada.
We didn’t ask him which of his achievements he was most proud of, but if we had done, our best guess is that he would have covered his embarrassment with a modest remark or a joke, and then said: his grandchildren and the fact that he changed palliative medicine in Canada forever and for the better, in that order.
Larry died of pancreatic cancer on August 15, 2013, in his home surrounded by his family.
Reprinted from the Temmy Latner Centre website, by kind permission. For a full account of Dr. Librach’s clinical and academic appointments, publications, awards and achievements, click here.