Dr. Laurence "Lanny" Martin Lesser, M.D., F.A.C.C., age 72, Snellville, Georgia, beloved Gwinnett County cardiologist since 1979, died at his home on Wednesday, August 2, 2017, before sunset, 10 Av, 5777, surrounded by his devoted wife, Sandra, and his beloved children and grandchildren. On Saturday, March 19, 2016, Dr. Lesser was diagnosed with an incurable form of cancer known as adenocarcinoma. Dr. Lesser fought this incurable cancer with grace and dignity. He was always concerned about his family and his responsibility to his patients despite his illness.
Dr. Lesser, the son of the late Rose Rodin Lesser and Eli Nathaniel Lesser, was born in Brooklyn, New York on December 20, 1944. He was a 1962 graduate of James Madison High School in Brooklyn where he served as captain of the men's basketball team (as Dr. Lesser remarked, "The worst team in the history of James Madison.") Dr. Lesser received his undergraduate degree from the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, VA (Phi Beta Kappa). He attended medical school at the State University of New York and served his internship at Erie County Medical Center both located in Buffalo, NY. Dr. Lesser served as a Lt. Commander in the United States Navy from 1975 to 1977 as Chief of Cardiology, Naval Medical Center, Charleston, SC. Dr. Lesser completed his Internal Medicine residency and Cardiology Fellowship at the Emory Affiliated Hospitals (Emory University School of Medicine, Grady Health System, and the Veterans Administration Hospital) in Atlanta, GA. He was an Associate Professor of Medicine at Emory from 1977-78. Dr. Lesser began his private practice in Cardiology in East Point, Georgia, (South Fulton County) in 1978-79, moving to the Snellville area in 1979. Being the first board certified cardiologist in Gwinnett County, he worked alongside fellow colleagues, Dr. Ed Bowen, Dr. Bruce Branitz, Dr. Norman Freid, Dr. Taher Bagheri, Dr. Robert A. "Bob" Gadlage, Dr. Javad Deghanian, Dr. Phil Edwards, and Dr. Victor Pavamani in the creation of Gwinnett Community Hospital in 1979, the first hospital in Snellville. He was a renowned cardiologist, teacher, mentor and tutor to so many physicians during his remarkable medical career.
Dr. Lesser was Board Certified in Internal Medicine and Cardiovascular Diseases. He was a fellow of the American College of Cardiology and the American College of Physicians. Dr. Lesser was a member of the Medical Association of Georgia. In 2008, Dr. Lesser was the national recipient of the First Humanitarian Award in recognition for his caring spirit and philanthropic work.
In 1991, Dr. Lesser had a special opportunity to work with Registered Nurse, Pam Kramer and Health Care Educator, Madeline Estefan in co-founding the Gwinnett Community Clinic (GCC). For over twenty-five years GCC was staffed by volunteer physicians, nurses, and pharmacists to provide a range of comprehensive primary health care services to uninsured, low-income men, women and children in Gwinnett County. Pam Kramer stated, "Before we ever did one thing to begin the clinic, we had the doctors ready to participate, because Dr. Lesser went to them and elicited their support. That's why the clinic started so strong, and how we could provide five million dollars' worth of quality care on a $130,000 budget. We were able to provide a service that the people of Gwinnett County otherwise would not have had access to."
For over two decades, Dr. Lesser had the pleasure of being a physician for "Camp Big Heart". An overnight summer camp for campers with mild to moderate special needs sponsored by the Civitan Club of Georgia, the mission always being to provide the highest quality summer recreational camping experience for Georgia's developmentally challenged children and adults. He was beloved by campers and staff alike.
Dr. Lesser's commitment to teaching the next generation of physicians was recognized on May 16, 2016, when he was honored with a reception announcing the creation of the "Laurence Martin Lesser, MD Graduate Medical Education Endowment." Gwinnett Medical Center named the cardiology floor nursing station in honor of Dr. Lesser. In keeping with Dr. Lesser's passion for teaching and learning, The Lesser Endowment for Graduate Medical Education will provide a lecture series in his name for medical residents. Gwinnett Medical Center has both family practice and internal medicine residents in their Graduate Medical Education Program.
Dr. Lesser stated, "I have been fortunate and privileged to experience the great growth and innovation that occurred in medicine for the residents of Gwinnett County. Medicine has been a blessing, a joy and a great privilege for me as I served as the first cardiology in the county and could be a part of serving patients in all the hospitals. I have experienced tremendous joy in seeing the addition of cardiovascular surgery to service the needs of almost one million people in the county."
Dr. Lesser was an Emeritus member of the CardioVascular Group which grew to sixteen members fully supporting the cardiovascular needs of Gwinnett County. His exemplary leadership in the cardiovascular community will forever be a part of Gwinnett Medical Center and the entire Gwinnett County area.
As Dr. Lesser reflected on his life, he quietly said, "I have been blessed with the world's most wonderful wife, my beloved Sandra; my son, Rabbi Josh and fiancé, Alex and daughter, Mishele; Sandra's two sons, Wes & his wife Ronda and Asa and his wife Shannon; the wonderful experience of grandchildren; my sister Barbara & her husband, Harold. I have a great sense of gratitude to God for my family and all the opportunities I have experienced in my lifetime."
Those left to cherish his memory are his devoted and loving wife, Sandra Inglett Lesser; son, Rabbi Joshua Craig Lesser and his fiancé, Alex Ramaldes of Atlanta, GA; daughter, Mishele Elizabeth Lesser of Brooklyn, NY; Sandra's two sons, Wes Albright and wife Ronda of Woodstock, GA and Asa Albright and his wife Shannon of Buford, GA; three grandsons, Ethan Albright and Owen Albright and Aiden Albright; four granddaughters, Lily Albright, Salem and Blair Smith, and Kimberly Albright Anderson & her husband Scott; one great grandson, Logan Anderson; loving sister, Barbara Weinreb and husband Harold of Scarsdale, NY; nieces, nephews, and a host of many friends & colleagues across the country. Dr. Lesser was preceded in death by his mother, Rose Rodin Lesser in 2003, his father, Eli N. Lesser in 1994, and his sister, Audrey Lesser Erdman in 1990 (Barbara's twin sister).
A Private Graveside Service will be held on Thursday, August 3, 2017, at 4:00 P.M. at Eternal Hills Memory Gardens in Snellville, Georgia for the family with Rabbi Richard Baroff, Guardians of The Torah of Atlanta, GA leading the service with Lay-Cantors Gayanne Geurin and Brad Davidorf. The family will sit Shivah in Lawrenceville and then Atlanta. In lieu of flowers please make contributions to the "Laurence Martin Lesser, MD Graduate Medical Education Endowment," by contacting the Gwinnett Medical Center at 678-312-8500, www.gmcgiving.com OR the Eli/Rose Adult Program Fund, C/O Congregation Bet Haverim, P.O. Box 29548, Atlanta, GA 30359, www.congregationbethaverim.org OR to Congregation Beth David, 1885 Mc Gee Rd SW, Snellville, GA 30078.
A Public Memorial Service honoring the life and medical career of Dr. Laurence M. Lesser, M.D., F.A.C.C. will be announced within the week to be held at the Snellville United Methodist Church. The entire community will be invited to attend. Cards and expressions of sympathy may be sent to the funeral homes for the Lesser Family. Tom M. Wages Funeral Service, LLC,"A Family Company", Snellville Chapel (770-979-3200), 3705 Stone Mountain Highway West, Snellville, GA 30039 has been entrusted with arrangements for Dr. Lesser. Eddie Dressler, Dressler's Jewish Funeral Care, Atlanta (770-451-4999), friend of Rabbi Joshua Lesser will assist with supervision of the Jewish funeral ritual. Sign online guest book at www.edressler.com or www.wagesfuneralhome.com.