It is with great sadness that we share the news that Leonard passed
away early Monday morning. You have been such a warm, supportive
community for him during his illness. He loved reading all the posts
on the site.
We hope you can join us to celebrate his life in San Francisco on
Friday at 1pm at Sherith Israel Synagogue at California and Webster.
If you can't make it, please post your thoughts at
www.leonardshlain.com This will be a record of his life, we will keep
His obituary is below.
Leonard Shlain, Best-Selling Author, San Francisco Surgeon Dies, May 11, 2009
The Bay Area and the world lost a renowned visionary thinker and
educator when Leonard Shlain, best-selling author and San Francisco
surgeon, died Monday, May 11, 2009 at his home in Mill Valley after a
battle with brain cancer. He was 71 years old.
Admired among artists, scientists, philosophers, anthropologists and
educators, Leonard Shlain authored three best-selling books: Art &
Physics, Alphabet vs. The Goddess and Sex, Time, and Power. He
delivered multimedia presentations based upon his books in venues
around the world including Harvard, The New York Museum of Modern Art,
CERN, Los Alamos, The Florence Academy of Art and the European Council
of Ministers. His fans include Al Gore, Norman Lear and singer Bjork
who creditedShlain 's Alphabet vs. The Goddess with inspiring her
recent album "Wanderlust". His fourth book Leonardo's Brain about
Leonardo Da Vinci will be published next spring by Viking. Dr. Shlain
was a surgeon for 38 years at California Pacific Medical Center where
he headed the Laparascopic Surgery Department and an Associate
Clinical Professor of Medicine at UCSF.
Leonard Shlain was a loving and generous man with a larger-than-life
intellect and a prodigious curiosity. He was a widely respected
surgeon and attentive father and husband. He had an encyclopedic
knowledge which he wove with highly creative insights in his books and
presentations. A voracious reader, he took pride in finding the
perfect metaphor and delighted in making connections between
everything from art, physics, to human evolution and sexuality. Dinner
conversations spanned from the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle to
politics, literature to a hilarious joke. When his children were
young, he brought a human brain in a bucket of formaldehyde during the
school show and tell. When he came home after a hard day's work as a
young surgeon, he would excitedly diagram his operation of the day on
a napkin. Later, his diagrams became more adventuresome and expanded
to thought experiments that included what it would be like to sit
astride a beam of light and how that corresponded with Picasso's rose
period, blue period. This eventually led him to write his first book,
Art and Physics.
Leonard Michael Shlain was born on August 28th, 1937 in Detroit
Michigan. He graduated Central High School at the age of fifteen,
attended University of Michigan and then graduated Wayne State
University Medical School at twenty three (AOA), where he was recently
honored as the alumnus of the year. After serving as a Captain in the
U.S. Army stationed in France, he interned at Mt. Zion in San
Francisco, began his surgical residency at Bellevue Hospital in New
York and then completed it at California Pacific Medical Center in San
Francisco where he set up his general surgical practice in 1969. An
early pioneer of gallbladder and hernia laparascopic surgery, in 1990
he was one of the first California surgeons to use this technique. He
was flown around the world to train doctors in the new techniques,
patented several surgical instruments and pioneered new techniques for
gallbladder and hernia operations.
Leonard Shlain is survived by his wife Judge Ina Gyemant, Ret., and
children artist Kimberly Brooks, filmmaker and Webby Awards founder
Tiffany Shlain and doctor/entrepeneur Jordan Shlain. He was also
father in-law to filmmaker Albert Brooks, scientist/artist Ken
Goldberg, Ph.D. and Caroline Eggli, Ph.D., respectively. He had two
step-children, attorney Anne Gyemant Paris and writer Roberto Gyemant,
Jr. His son-in-law Michael Paris is a medical engineer. He is
pre-deceased by his sister Shirley Wollock and survived by siblings
Marvin Shlain and Sylvia Goldstick, as well as grandchildren Shawn,
Jacob, Claire, Odessa, Amber, Sophia, Elena, Daphne, Arthur and a new
grandchild due May 28th.
A celebration of Leonard's life will be held on Friday, May 15th at
1:00 PM at Sherith Israel Synagogue, 2266 California Street at
Webster, San Francisco, CA 94115.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Leonard Shlain
Scholarship Fund at The Saybrook Graduate School and mailed as
Att: Ed Patuto, Shlain Scholarship Fund
Saybrook Graduate and Research Center
747 Front Street
San Francisco, CA 94111
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