Lester and Connie LeRoss Endowed Professorship in Cardiovascular Surgery
The Lester and Connie LeRoss Endowed Professorship in Cardiovascular Surgery was named after two native Washingtonians, Lester and Connie LeRoss.
They grew up in the Yakima, Wash., area, where they both graduated from Eisenhower High School. In fall 1963, Les entered the University of Washington, earning a degree in economics in 1967. Immediately after his graduation, he joined General Electric in its computer manufacturing/sales division. Les worked in the computer industry for his entire career.
In October 1967, Les and Connie were married. During the early years of their marriage, Connie focused her energies on the important task of raising their three children.
For the first 15 years of his career, Les worked for large multinational computer manufacturing/sales firms. In 1982, he made the transition to a smaller, more entrepreneurial environment by becoming a partner in a local, professional data processing services organization. It was in this environment that he found his true calling.
In 1990, he and two other individuals co-founded a similar organization that thrived and expanded very rapidly. Connie, who was completing her child-rearing responsibilities, was soon called upon to assist the growing firm in its accounting department, where she worked until 1997.
By this time, the company employed over 850 people in 11 cities and had attracted the attention of a national company — one to which it was ultimately sold.
Connie and Les retired in September 1997 and were just beginning a new phase of their lives, which was to involve extensive travel, when Les, who had enjoyed good health his entire life, suffered a heart attack in November. What followed was a series of health-related catastrophes which culminated in heart transplant surgery in December 1997.
Les and Connie are no strangers to the University of Washington. In addition to Les, all three of their children attended the University — Teresa (psychology), Brad (environmental sciences), and Michelle (civil engineering). Les is a lifetime member of the alumni association, and, in addition to their annual Tyee contributions, the LeRosses also support various annual fundraising programs.
This endowment was created in 1999 to help further work in developing equipment, procedures, training techniques and personnel to treat heart-related ailments and to recognize the outstanding care Les received during his treatment at University of Washington Medical Center (UWMC). Without the equipment, training, dedication and skills of UWMC’s medical support team, Les would not have survived his medical ordeal. This endowment is intended to continue such development and training.
In addition, this endowment was created to recognize and thank the anonymous donor family that gave Les the “gift of life.” Without their generosity under the most difficult of circumstances, Les would not be alive today. It is also made with the fondest memories of Les’s mother, who died in 1967 at 44 years of age from complications following open-heart surgery. Had capabilities similar to those available today at UWMC been available to her, she might still be alive, say the LeRosses. “We have been richly blessed in so many ways,” says Les. “We wish to return a small measure of these blessings!”
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