Association News
Donald Langsley, M.D., Dies at Age 79
Psychiatric News
Volume 40 Number 5 page 11-11

Psychiatry lost one of its leading lights in January with the death of former APA president Donald Langsley, M.D., at age 79. In addition to serving as APA president for the 1980-81 term, Langsley was a higly respected psychiatric educator and an expert in issues concerning accreditation and licensing of physicians. He was director of the American Board of Medical Specialties for a decade beginning in 1981.

After completing his psychiatry residency, Langsley joined the faculty of the University of Colorado School of Medicine as an associate professor and director of the Colorado Psychopathic Hospital. In 1968 he headed for the West Coast, where he founded the psychiatry department at the University of California at Davis School of Medicine and became director of mental health programs for Sacramento County.

From 1976 to 1981 Langsley chaired the psychiatry department at the University of Cincinnati School of Medicine.

After his term as APA president ended in 1981, he continued to contribute his expertise to APA in multiple capacities as a member of the Board of Trustees and as chair or member of several committees, including the Ethics Committee.

APA President Michelle Riba, M.D., remembered Langsley as "a great psychiatrist, teacher, mentor, and friend. He believed in the importance of ethics and was a role model for medical students, residents, early career psychiatrists, and colleagues."

Former APA president Lawrence Hartmann, M.D., commented that for many years Langsley was "a steady and calm presence in American psychiatric leadership," noting that although his APA presidency ended more than 20 years ago, he continued attending and contributing his wisdom to APA Board meetings until last year.

Recently, Langsley "energized and edited the useful, brief, and clear APA Ethics Primer—which was sent free to all psychiatric residents in the U.S. three years ago," Hartmann noted. "It is a good example of Don's longstanding interest in ethics; in psychiatry residents; in combining local and national, as well as psychiatric and other medical, issues; and in education."

He continued, "Don and I became friends when he asked me to take a long walk with him on a deserted, off-season, Martha's Vineyard beach after an Area 1 meeting 30 years ago," Hartmann recalled. "We both asked questions; we had different points of view and experiences; we challenged each other on all kinds of issues, and we remained friends. I miss him."

At the time of his death on January 13, he was a professor emeritus in psychiatry at Northwestern University.

Langsley is survived by his wife, Pauline, who is also a psychiatrist; three daughters; and three grandchildren. ▪

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