|W. Edward Lansche, AB ’48, MD ’52
Early Scholar-Athlete Shares Life’s Victories
W. Edward Lansche AB ’48, MD ’52, is one of only three physicians inducted into the University’s Sports Hall of Fame to date.
“My induction into the Hall of Fame was one of the highlights of my life,” says Lansche, who was honored with the Distinguished Service Member distinction last February. “I have received a lot of wonderful honors, but this was by far the best. When I found out, I was on cloud nine. And I have not come down yet.”
Lansche’s experiences as an athlete, an undergraduate, and a medical student have been the catalyst for his exemplary leadership at Washington University over the last six decades.
“I’ve always felt a very strong attachment to the University,” Lansche adds. “Like being in a big family, you just feel so welcome. Washington U. has brought a lot of camaraderie into my life.”
Lansche also credits his success as an orthopedic surgeon to the exceptional education he received at the University.
When Lansche graduated from Beaumont High School in St. Louis in 1945, his father suggested he enroll at Washington University. “It was during the war, and my father feared I would be drafted. He thought that I should get a semester under my belt, and when I got out of the service, we would talk about where I would attend college. But while I was a student, the war ended, and I did not want to leave. Staying at the University was the best thing I ever did.”
As an undergraduate, Lansche took advantage of every opportunity available—academically and socially. He quips, “I guess you could say I was an early scholar-athlete.”
In his freshman year, he received the Jackson Johnson Fellowship for academics, which provided one-third of his $150 tuition. Outside the classroom, the pre-med major played on the basketball team and threw the discus and shot put as a member of the track and field team.
“If I had gone to a larger university, I would have been lost,” says Lansche. “Washington University presented opportunities to me that I could not find at other schools. I was able to get involved in activities on campus, play sports, join a fraternity, and get a great education. That education allowed me to make a living and do well throughout my career.”
By the time he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1948, he was a four-year letterwinner in both basketball and track and field. He also served as president of the sophomore class, Lock and Chain, Thurtene Honorary, and Omicron Delta Kappa honorary society.
However, December 29, 1947, lives in Lansche’s memory as the most meaningful event during his undergraduate years. It was the day he met Dee Kriegshauser, a sophomore business administration student who was involved in numerous campus activities, on a blind date. The couple continued their courtship while Lansche pursued his studies at the Washington University School of Medicine and Dee completed her bachelor’s degree in 1950.
The week Lansche graduated from the School of Medicine in 1952, he and Dee married and moved to Nashville for his internship at Vanderbilt University Hospital. He was drafted one year later, and the couple was on the move again—this time to Germany. Lansche served as a pediatrician at the 10th General Dispensary in Frankfurt and as a battalion surgeon with the 18th Engineers group in Giessen.
After returning to St. Louis in 1955, Lansche began his orthopedic residency at Barnes Hospital, where he received the J. Albert Key Memorial Fellowship. Following his residency, he began his medical career in St. Louis that continued for the next 33 years.
Lansche formed Orthopedics Associates, Inc., a large private practice orthopedic group in 1964, which still exists today. He was chief of orthopedic surgery for 20 years at Missouri Baptist Hospital, where he served a one-year stint as chief of staff in 1967. He was president of the St. Louis Orthopedic Society from 1974 to 1975 and was chairman of the 20th Century Orthopedic Society for five years, beginning in 1985.
Lansche retired from the medical field in 1992. But he soon entered another phase of his life that brought him equal satisfaction—giving back to his alma mater.
Lansche is a Life Fellow of the William Greenleaf Eliot Society and a Brookings Partner. Through his generous Annual Fund and life income gifts, he has supported athletics, the School of Medicine, and various other schools and programs. He explains: “I just want to give back some of what’s been given to me. I feel that money spent on education is money well spent. My philosophy is this: I may not be able to give a building, but I can give a brick.”
During the Hall of Fame induction ceremony, John Schael, director of athletics, praised Lansche for his dedication to the University’s student-athletes. Schael said: “I like to call Ed ‘the Renaissance man’ because he has been instrumental in rekindling the spirit of Washington University athletics.”
As a founding member of the W Club, Lansche has been very active in the organization, including serving as vice president. Currently, he is a member of the W Club Executive Committee and the Eliot Society Membership Committee for Athletics.
His volunteer commitments have extended well beyond athletics. Lansche is a member of the Planned Giving Committee. He has served as president of the Washington University Medical Society and as a member of the Eliot Society Membership Committee for Arts & Sciences and the School of Medicine, as well as the Washington University Alumni Board of Governors from 2003 to 2007.
Lansche has also assumed leadership positions in both his undergraduate and medical school Reunions over the years. He was chairman of his 25th medical school Reunion and co-chairman of his 40th, 45th, 50th, 55th, and 60th undergraduate Reunions. “When I get involved, I get to know people,” explains Lansche. “That’s the best part.”
Lansche’s wife of 56 years, Dee, was involved with the University until her death in February 2009. She was a member of the Alumni Board of Governors and served as co-chair of her 40th, 45th, 50th, and 55th Reunions.
David Blasingame, executive vice chancellor for Alumni and Development Programs, says: “Whenever I stop to think of all that Ed has done, and continues to do, for the University, I simply marvel. He is a wonderful example to all our student-athletes—past and present. We are proud to count him as an alumnus.”