Hall of Fame

The POSNA Hall of Fame provides an enduring history to honor those POSNA members who have displayed dedication to the Pediatric Orthopaedic Society of North America, teaching and mentoring, studying musculoskeletal conditions in children and caring for children with musculoskeletal conditions. Nominations for members are taken each fall and selected by the Awards Committee and members of the Hall of Fame.  

Hall of Fame Categories: Leadership, Diversity, Teacher, Humanitarian, Hero, Triumph over Adversity, Pioneer, Contributions to Literature, Home Person (one who does the real work while others go to meetings), Fox-Hole Buddy (reliable person when the stakes are high), Exceptional Clinician, POSNA Service



Eugene Bleck, MD

Dr. Eugene Bleck was nominated for the POSNA Hall of Fame as a Pioneer by Bob Hensinger. Per Dr. Hensinger’s nomination: “Gene Bleck was a wonderful physician and person. He started pediatric orthopaedics at Stanford and he was Chair of the Orthopaedic Section at Stanford until it became a Department. He was always identified as an expert in CP management and wrote a great book on the management of [the] Neuromuscular handicap child which I still have. He had an early gait lab that was excellent and continues [to serve children to this day]. It now does upper extremity and golf. He was a President of the POS just before the two organizations combined [to form POSNA] and [he] was very influential in making it happen. We were all together at the Tachdjijan courses for years. He was a very popular speaker and visiting professor. He was on our first JPO Editorial Board and [he was] very helpful to Lynn [Staheli] and I. He had a very dry wit and could be very critical without being offensive…He is most deserving to be in the POSNA Hall of Fame.”

The following is the eulogy delivered by Lawrence Rinsky, MD (Practice partner and friend)
If I have had success in my professional life in my chosen field of pediatric orthopaedics, it would be because I have stood on the shoulders of a giant before me, Gene Bleck being that giant. He would be the one who stood behind me, in front of me, and developed in me most of the principles of Ortho surgery that we both have loved.

We are all here to remember and celebrate the extraordinary life of this man whose work and accomplishments have touched so many patients, families, and friends, as well as mentored countless colleagues, trainees and students, in this country and throughout the world Gene’s orthopaedic training began at Duke University in 1948, but was interrupted midway when he was called up for active duty in the Navy. He ended up as Assist Chief Naval Amputee center, Alameda Naval Air Station for two years, returning to finish his residency at his beloved Duke in 1955. At Duke Ortho he formed lifelong friendships with other young orthopaedic surgeons who would also be giants in their respective fields: Drs Baker, Goldner, and Urbaniak…While serving as a resident, he authored his first Orthopaedic  book, a short paperback that became an instant classic: An Atlas of Plaster Techniques.

He moved to the Bay Area, first in private practice in San Mateo, where he was the first to gradually dedicate his practice to the care of children with orthopaedic problems, especially CP. Basically, he “created” the subspecialty in California. His scholarly work earned him acclaim throughout the orthopaedic world. Yet, at the same time, he embraced new technologies, being the first in our area to do anterior cervical fusions, the first to do arthroscopies, introducing anterior surgery for scoliosis, among many other innovations. He taught that we should follow a philosophy that emphasized trying to keep in mind this metric: “Is the treatment we are about to do going to help keep this child more of a child, or more of a patient.”

 By 1972 he moved full time to the Stanford Ortho Faculty where he would remain full time, until semi -retirement 17 years later. Ultimately, he would head up the Orthopaedic Division, but his accomplishments in the greater world of Orthopaedics were even more renown. He would be elected President of the AOA, POSNA, and AACPDM. His now classic book on The Orthopaedic Treatment of Cerebral Palsy propelled him to justified fame as the top expert in this field. Even after he stepped down as head of Stanford Ortho, he did not rest on his many laurels. He worked for a number of years at the VAH. In his own words, it was important to be “useful, not just ornamental”. He coined many phrases that expressed his sentiments that so many of his colleagues have incorporated into their own life philosophies. For example, he emphasized that there are often times when we should just step back and not intervene: “Don’t just do something; stand there.”

Despite so many accomplishments, he always maintained a strong sense of humility that fit perfectly with his deep religious faith. He had a sparkling, spontaneous sense of humor, even if he wasn’t always PC. In fact, he reveled in being “un-PC.” He delighted in popping the balloons of pretention and bombast. There was nothing so refreshing as sitting next to Gene in the audience at a conference where he would whisper to those around him that so-and-so, talking at the lectern, ….hasn’t seen of case of that in 20 years.”

Laughter was easy, frequent, and memorable with EEB. He had a nickname for nearly everyone he worked with. I was ‘Orence or Yasser. Our partner, Jim Gamble, was “Jimbo”.  But, when we traveled to conferences together, we were known as “Stanford and Son.

He had tremendous affection for our residents that went through the program, and this affection was reciprocated. He was determined that residents should be treated as post-docs, and should not do “scut.” He called them “associates”. He felt protective of them, even while being firm, and demanding enough to motivate them to do the best on our service. He was far ahead of his time in the idea of resident education. They were our “babies”, nicknamed “The Beebees”. He had a major influence on so many Stanford Orthopaedic residents, that he has been honored by a visiting lectureship here at Stanford, where we bring in a renowned Pediatric Orthopaedist from elsewhere in the country.

Gene loved everything French. He had many French orthopaedic surgeon friends, and seemed to delight them with his wisdom, sense of humor, and fractured French speech. He not only had a number of them out to Stanford to learn, but also spent two Sabbaticals living in France. The group of French pediatric orthopaedic surgeons held him in great esteem and frequently sought his counsel. One of our favorite repeating moments were the sight of Gene interspersing French expressions whilst speaking to Hispanic patients.

Later in his career, Gene formed a unique bond with the Orthopaedic surgeons of the ASEAN group in SE Asia. This was especially notable in Indonesia and Singapore, where he was an honored guest frequently, and shared many adventures, rafting on wild rivers, and hiking in the jungles etc.
Gene was never one to shirk a challenge. As late as 2002, near the age of 80, he and Ann, while at an AOA meeting in Victoria BC went out kayaking on the open ocean with my wife and me. It was testing, and even a little frightening to be out in a kayak with Orcas nearby; but he kept his cool. He remained as physically active as possible well into his late 80’s. And, intellectually, he was remarkable to the end. We had spirited debates on politics, religion, current events. Although we might disagree, we always felt the bond of deep respect for each other’s opinions.

The Orthopaedic world that Gene loved and loved him back, and his many friends will miss his friendship, humor, and wisdom. But, his impact lives on in his contributions to so many grateful patients, students, colleagues throughout the world. Gene, your physical presence we can no longer share. But, we, and countless others, are forever blessed for having had you touch our lives.
Lawrence A Rinsky, MD

Back to List