One of the greats of surgical pathology in general and hematopathology in particular, Dr. Ronald Dorfman, died on June 15th after a brief illness. Dr. Dorfman was Emeritus Professor of Pathology at Stanford and one of the founders of the field of Hematopathology. He was born in South Africa and began his pathology career studying Kaposi's sarcoma where, while presenting a paper on this topic, he fell under the scrutiny of Dr. Lauren Ackerman. Dr. Ackerman was the consumate world traveler and when he encountered promising young talent around the world, he eagerly invited them to train with him at Barnes Hospital in St. Louis. The young Dr. Dorfman caught his eye, an invitation was given and accepted, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Dr. Dorfman prospered as a trainee and junior faculty member in St. Louis and in 1968, along with Dr. Richard Kempson, he was recruited to Stanford. Together, he and Dr. Kempson founded a Surgical Pathology service that quickly became and still remains one of the very best in the world. Dr. Dorfman became a world leader in the relatively new subspecialty of Hematopathology, and with Dr. Costan Berard founded the Society for Hematopathology in 1981, in which Dr. Dorfman served as President from 1982 through 1984. He became Emeritus Professor at Stanford in 1993, but still occasionally visited the department to render his opinion on problematic cases, often these were examples of the entity that bears his name, Rosai-Dorfman disease.
Ron Dorfman was a gifted diagnostician, teacher and researcher but those who knew him well were equally impressed by his warmth and his many admirable personal qualities. He was a consummate gentleman and scholar. In honor of his achievements and his contributions to Stanford, his field, and his patients, the Department of Pathology established the Ronald F. Dorfman, MBBCh, FRCPath, Professorship in Hematopathology in 2002, a Chair that is current held by Dr. Roger Warnke.
(parts of the above were abstracted from an e-mail by Drs. Warnke & Galli)
I was fortunate enough to have interacted with Dr. Dorfman on several occasions including a visit to the University of Virginia quite a few years ago when he was visiting professor and astounded us with the depth and breadth of his hematopathology experience. As I recall, for example, he had well over 400 cases of lymphocyte predominant Hodgkin's disease in his personal files! I was also privileged to dine with him on several invited trips to speak at the California Pathology Society or the South Bay Pathology Society. I can only echo what those who knew him much better have said. He was not just an icon in our field, but a true gentlemen in every sense of the word.
Please feel free to contribute your comments or anecdotes regarding this fine man.