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A Legend: Dr. John A. Jane Sr. (1931-2015)

johnnyGuest post from Johnny Delashaw, Jr., MD
Chair of Neurosurgery
Seattle Neuroscience Center
Seattle, Washington


A Legend: Dr. John A. Jane Sr. (1931-2015)
“The Song is Ended but the Melody Lingers On”

Many names come to mind when one reflects on giants in the field of neurosurgery. One of these is John Anthony Jane Sr., MD, PhD, who recently passed away in Charlottesville, Virginia. Dr. Jane was the quintessential academic neurosurgeon, devoting a long and notable career to his craft. For over four decades, he maintained a world-renowned department of neurosurgery at the University of Virginia, including the teaching a multitude of trainees. This special bond between professor and student resulted in a legacy and dedication to perfection that is continued in neurosurgical departments across the country. Many department chairs continue to strive for and spread Dr. Jane’s gravitas and pursuit of excellence. The title of Irving Berlin’s 1927 “The Song is Ended but the Melody Lingers On,” comes to mind.

As part of his stewardship in academic neurosurgery, Dr. Jane gave freely of his time as editor-in-chief of the Journal of Neurosurgery. Under his leadership of more than two decades, the journal reached new heights, maintaining academic rigor throughout his tenure. As a prominent and busy neurosurgeon, Dr. Jane was also known for his innovation and out-of-the-box thinking. He worked seamlessly between the various diseases encountered in neurosurgery such as tumors, pediatrics, head injury, spine, and aneurysms. His 60-year focus on excellence in healthcare was often acknowledged and was exemplified by his Governor’s Public Service Award for Career Achievement in 2014.

Dr. Jane was a Renaissance man:

  • a prolific writer and author, with more than 300 publications to his name;
  • internationally recognized, as evidenced by his visiting professorships;
  • possessed of an insatiable appetite for all reading including literature, history, art and music; and
  • an avid gardener.

Years after serving as president of the Society of Neurological Surgeons (SNS), Dr. Jane was also honored with the Cushing Medal, the American Association of Neurological Surgeons’ (AANS) highest award. After training with such giants in the field as Dr. Theodore Rasmussen — a Canadian neurosurgeon, neurologist, and neuropathologist — and Dr. Wilder Penfield — another of Canada’s foremost neurosurgeons — Dr. Jane will now go on to be included among their ranks.

On a personal note, Dr. Jane was a dedicated husband to his wife, Noella, and loving father and grandfather — with three generations of “John A. Jane.”

Pictured from left to Right:  John A Jane, III; John A. Jane, Sr., MD, PhD; John A. Jane, Jr., MD

Pictured from left to Right: John A Jane, III; John A. Jane, Sr., MD, PhD; John A. Jane, Jr., MD

While he deeply loved his children, his family extended to his neurosurgery staff and residents. Dr. Jane was always there for his former residents to counsel or encourage in tough times, to celebrate victories, and grieve losses. I can honestly say he was in my family too. We will all miss Dr. Jane. He is not replaceable. I think I can speak for all his residents — we were extremely lucky to work with him, know him, and be mentored by him. He will always be a part of us, and it is our duty to pass his legacy forward.

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