GALVESTON — Dr. Alvin Louis “Al” LeBlanc, a physician leader at the University of Texas Medical Branch for more than 50 years, died on Monday in Galveston. He was 83.
The cause was complications of cancer, his son, Steve LeBlanc, said.
LeBlanc was a physician, an educator, a student mentor and a man known for his kindness and optimism. He loved to lighten the mood with a joke.
LeBlanc served the university as vice president of UTMB Hospitals and Clinics and as the associate dean for graduate medical education, and in other leadership positions during his long tenure, helping to build the core values of the university.
“Al LeBlanc was a problem solver and a good doctor. He raised me and many of my colleagues from medical students on and launched us in our careers,” said Joan Richardson, medical branch professor and chair of pediatrics.
“He was a kind man. Even if he had something difficult to say, he said it in the kindest possible way.”
It was the medical school that drew LeBlanc to Galveston from Beaumont in 1951. He received his medical degree from the university in 1955, and after a three-year tour of duty in the Air Force, he returned to Galveston as a resident in obstetrics and gynecology.
During his decades as a practicing obstetrician, his family estimates that he delivered thousands of babies.
LeBlanc was married for 60 years to his high school sweetheart, Mary, and the couple had three boys and three girls.
He often joked that his wife felt he loved the medical branch more than he loved her, which he said was absolutely not true. The university was only a close second, he said.
“Al LeBlanc was the epitome of medicine at its best,” said Ben Raimer, a senior vice president for the university and a friend and colleague for 40 years.
“He had a genuine interest in his patients, his students and for the people who worked with him. I believe he is one of the giants that have passed through the halls of UTMB. This is a man who will be greatly missed.”
Education was LeBlanc’s passion. His interest extended into the community, where he was a supporter of the Academic Excellence Boosters Club and he served on the board of Galveston College and the Rosenberg Library, among many others.
On Sunday you could find Dr. LeBlanc in the second pew at Sacred Heart Church where he was a faithful member for 59 years, according to friend and neighbor Robert Mihovil.
“You couldn’t find a better man or teacher or parishioner or doctor or neighbor. He was here for all of us,” Mihovil said.
LeBlanc retired from the University more than once but departed in earnest in 2012.
When asked how he would like to be remembered in a video celebrating his half-century with the medical branch, he said: “I’ve lived a good life. I didn’t take advantage of anyone. I did some things that were useful for people. I loved my family, and they loved me back. I have been happy almost everyday. And I like to joke.”
He said no career could be more satisfying for him than being a physician.
The LeBlanc family will receive visitors beginning at 5 p.m. Sunday at Sacred Heart Church. A rosary will begin at 6:30 p.m., led by Deacon Doug Matthews.
Funeral Mass will be at noon Monday at Sacred Heart Church, with the Rev. Frank Fabj as celebrant.