Thomas L. Gavan, MD, a former member of the College of American Pathologists (CAP) Board of Governors, died on November 22, 2001 at the age of 72. In addition to serving as a board member (1993–1998), he also served on many CAP councils and committees, and was recognized with the CAP Pathologist of the Year Award in 1989 and the Frank W. Hartman, MD, Memorial Award for meritorious service in 1999. At the time of his death, Dr Gavan was chair of the CAP Information Science and Technology Committee, a member of the Council on Scientific Affairs, and an advisor to the Standards Committee.

Dr Gavan was born in Cleveland, Ohio, and graduated from St Ignatius High School and John Carroll University, both in Cleveland, before attending the Stritch School of Medicine at Loyola University Medical Center, Maywood, Ill. He retired from the Cleveland Clinic in 1991, where he held numerous positions including clinical pathologist, chairman of the Department of Microbiology, head of the Medical Staff, and chairman of the Laboratory Medicine Division.

“He was retired from the active practice of hospital pathology, but he was far from retired from pathology because he devoted his full attention to activities at the College and in the international arena,” said longtime friend Gerald Hoeltge, MD, head of the section of transfusion medicine at the Cleveland Clinic and a fellow CAP member. In the mid-1970s, Dr Hoeltge was a student of Dr Gavan's at Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, where Dr Gavan taught from 1959 to the late 1990s. Dr Hoeltge described his former mentor as someone who was deeply dedicated to his work and those around him. “He recognized the importance of standardization in antimicrobial susceptibility testing more than 25 years ago,” Dr Hoeltge said. “He was a pioneer in that area.”

On a personal level, “Tom had the knack for making you feel comfortable in even a very difficult situation, while at the same time expecting and quietly demanding excellence in everything you do,” Dr Hoeltge recalls. “But it was clear that what he was doing in his professional life was treating employees like family. The same impressions, the same stories, the same admiration that his family gives him, in fact, are what I hear from anyone who has ever worked with him.”

As chair of the CAP Microbiology Resource Committee in the mid-1970s, Dr Gavan strove to improve the quality of laboratory practice and through his innovative work as chair of the Surveys Committee during the same period, he helped shape the surveys program. Dr Gavan also acted as chair of the College's Project Management Team from its inception in 1995 until 1999, and served the Council on Public Affairs in numerous capacities.

Other professional organizations that benefited from Dr Gavan's volunteer efforts were the American Medical Association, American Society of Clinical Pathologists, American Academy of Microbiology, the Academy of Clinical Laboratory Physicians and Scientists, and the Ohio and Cleveland societies of pathologists. His pioneering work in antimicrobial susceptibility testing has remained a model for the field for decades. He was president of the National Committee for Clinical Laboratory Standards from 1984 to 1986.

In addition to his professional accomplishments, Dr Gavan was an avid outdoorsman who enjoyed biking around the Cleveland countryside with his wife Nancy. His greatest passion for the outdoors may have centered on the Grand Canyon. James MacLowry, MD, who succeeded Dr Gavan as chair of the Microbiology Resource Committee and who was a member of the Grand Canyon Microbiological Society, a quasi-official group of about a dozen hikers that Dr Gavan helped organize, has commented that, “It's not that Tom has been to the Grand Canyon—I think Tom owned the Grand Canyon.”

Despite his illness, Dr Gavan remained active in pathology and was an energetic and committed member of the CAP leadership. His energy and enthusiasm for new and challenging assignments was balanced by his many years of experience, his exercise of wise judgment and his instinct for recognizing where the hazards and pitfalls were waiting.

Dr Gavan is survived by Nancy, his wife of 45 years; his son Thomas J.; daughter Mary Margaret Stevens; and 2 grandchildren.

Tom Gavan—a good friend and mentor to so many of us—will be remembered by those who were privileged to have known him and worked with him for his unfailing courtesy, his kindness to all, his calm demeanor, and his devotion to the highest ideals of science and his profession.

Thomas L. Gavan, MD