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INTRODUCTION

It is truly a pleasure for me to welcome all of you to the First Ralph H. and Ruth F. Gross Lecture and to introduce you to Mrs. Ruth Gross, whom we are honoring today.

Vox audita perit, litera scripta manet, which means "The spoken word passes, the written word remains". The importance of books, the Library's collections to support education, research and patient care, cannot be overstated. Sir William Osler, in his essay entitled "Books and Men", given on the dedication of the Boston Medical Library at 8 Fenway, January 12, 1901, noted "that to study the phenomenon of disease without books is to sail on an uncharted sea, while to study books without patients is not to go to sea at all."

When I interviewed for the position of Director of the Louis Calder Memorial Library 11 years ago, my predecessor, Mrs. Mildred Langner, asked me what was my most important goal. Without hesitation I said: "The establishment of a million dollar endowment fund for the purchase of books". Ruth Gross and her late husband Ralph have made that goal a reality. We are now, for the first time, assured of continued support for the development of significant collections in the biomedical sciences. Collections which, thanks to Mrs. Gross' generosity, will benefit physicians, students and researchers for generations to come.

How Ruth came to establish this endowment is a wonderful story. Following World War II, Ralph and Ruth moved to South Florida and began a poultry farm on what is now Broward Boulevard in Fort Lauderdale. Of the first 100 chicks, over 90 died. Now you or I might have decided to pursue another line of business always wondering why so many chicks died, but Ralph focused on why eight lived and came to the conclusion that it was the feed. For Ralph this was the beginning of a life long career, investigating and experimenting with the relationship between nutrition and health.

Ralph's nutritional research brought him frequently to the Calder Library, where he spent many hours reading the literature, making photocopies, and requesting items from other libraries. When we were getting to know Ruth many years later, we toured her through each department of the Library and not surprisingly, Ruth fully understood the purpose of each department, its relationship to others and the computerized systems and networks in place.''

It was through a member of Friends for Life that Ruth met our own inestimable, now deceased Associate Dean Emerita, Mrs. Bea Dossick. Over many pleasant lunches at a West Broward bagel shop, Bea reacquainted Ruth with the University of Miami Medical School and all the new and exciting things happening on our campus and eventually brought her back to Calder, in a sense closing the circle.

Ruth's appreciation for the value of information and her generous support of the Calder Library is the single most gratifying experience of my years in Miami. In her honor we established the Biennial Ralph H. and Ruth F. Gross Lecture, we named the Library's Administrative Suite the Ralph H. and Ruth F. Gross Administrative offices, and the late Mr. James Clark, of my staff, created a beautiful bookplate which will be placed in each book purchased with income from the endowment. I'd like now to present Ruth with a framed copy of the original artwork for the bookplate on behalf of the School, the Library and its patrons for generations to come. Thank you Ruth!


Henry L. Lemkau, Jr., M.L.S.
Professor and Chairman,
Dept. of the Louis Calder Memorial Library
and Biomedical Communications,
University of Miami School of Medicine

 

 

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