Laban's Story

PORTLAND - Laban Wingert Leiter, M.D. died peacefully at home surrounded by family on July 1, 2016. Throughout his many years, he shared his love of life and boundless curiosity for learning with family, colleagues and friends.

Laban was born October 23, 1920 in Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania the fourth of five children born to Mamie Keller and Laban Wingert Leiter. He graduated Summa Cum Laude from Juniata College in 1942, after he changed his major from pre-ministerial to pre-med with the express wish to serve mankind through the medical field.

While attending Harvard Medical School, Laban enlisted in the U.S. Navy and was a Lieutenant Commander in the Navy Reserve. Prior to his Harvard graduation in 1945, Laban met Iva Fearon, a student nurse while in the operating room at Massachusetts General Hospital. They married and moved to Cincinnati, Ohio where Laban completed his internship at Cincinnati General Hospital.

Laban served his military duties at the VA Hospital in Martinsburg, West Virginia, followed by a residency in medicine at the VA Hospital at Fort Logan, in Denver, Colorado. On completion of a residency in internal medicine at Maine Medical Center, Laban worked at the VA hospital in Manchester, N.H. for 3 years.

In 1954 Laban started his private practice in internal medicine, specializing in gastroenterology, in his home office in Portland's West End. Laban's first of many house calls took place across the street from his office. Unsure of what to charge for the visit, he settled on three dollars. House calls took him far and wide, sometimes in the middle of the night. He saw patients in his office for 37 years, until his retirement in 1991. Laban was fondly referred to by many of his colleagues as 'the doctor's Doctor.'

Laban started the Division of Gastroenterology at Maine Medical Center in 1969, and was made the first Director of the Division. He and a colleague founded Portland Gastroenterology Associates in 1970, which has subsequently grown to become Portland Gastroenterology Center.

Laban was on the staff of both the Maine Medical Center and Mercy Hospitals. He regularly walked to MMC morning and night to perform procedures, participate in grand rounds, and visit his patients. He was President of the MMC Medical Staff from 1975-1977, and a MMC Trustee from 1979-1983. Laban was extremely dedicated to the profession of medicine, the medical community, and the pursuit of medical knowledge, well into retirement.

Laban was predeceased by his beloved wife, Iva, of 67 years in 2012. He is survived by his children Bruce, wife Meredith and their children Sarah, Melissa and John; Karl and wife Marion; Elizabeth and husband Dale Wisler; twins Janet and John; Susan and partner Tim Nason.

There will be no service per Laban's wishes. A family gathering will be held at a later time to honor and celebrate this extremely special man. Laban's family is eternally grateful for the wisdom and unconditional love he shared with them.

In the interest of Laban's firm belief in serving the goodness of mankind, those wishing to honor and remember his life may contribute to charities of their choice.

Arrangements are by Hobbs Funeral Home, South Portland. Condolences may be expressed to the family online at www.hobbsfuneralhome.com.
Published in Bangor Daily News
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