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Halling remembered as innovative mentor

By RANDY GONZALES

rgonzales@dailynews.net

Leonard William "Bill" Halling was a mentor, innovator and friend.

Halling, who started the first pathology laboratory in Hays in 1967, died Tuesday in Colorado Springs, Colo. He was 85.

"He was a mentor," said Dr. Jeff Curtis. "I knew him very well, worked for him for about five years when I was in college.

"We continued to correspond, talk over the years, even after he moved to Colorado Springs."

Curtis was among a group of pre-med students who would work the evening shift at the pathology lab.

"We all worked together and are indebted and grateful," Curtis said.

William Kane, a retired physician who lives in Hays, was a next-door neighbor of Halling's family for many years.

"When I first came to Hays in 1961, we didn't have a pathologist," Kane said. "We had to send stuff out of town."

Halling's path lab made an impact, Curtis said.

"He cornered the market for laboratory business in all of western Kansas, Nebraska, Colorado, Oklahoma -- he had a huge business," Curtis said.

"You trusted him," Kane said.

"He came up with a diagnosis, you believed it. We sent our tissue and blood samples to him."

Halling also embraced technology as one of the first doctors in the area to use computers.

"He started using Wang computers," Curtis said. "He was very high-tech and forward-thinking."

"Medicine changed over the years while I was practicing," Kane said. "I watched how his lab made things quicker and easier to run various types of blood tests."

Dr. John Cody, former director of High Plains Mental Health Center, also knew Halling both professionally and personally.

Cody fondly recalled the parties Halling liked to throw, as well as his famous Christmas cards.

"He used to write very wonderful Christmas cards," Cody said. "It would have about a four-page description of what they'd done that year, in great detail. Very well-written."

"He was a cool guy, very intelligent," Curtis said. "He was very cultured. He loved good music, good food. He was just a neat man. It saddened me (to learn of his death). A loss of a mentor and a good friend."

"He'll be missed," Kane said. "Without him, this community would have suffered a great deal."