On Friday, June 29, 1979, at 4 p.m., my wife, Mary Ellen, and I joined four PGY-1 resident colleagues in the Mayo Clinic Department of Anesthesiology’s library in Rochester, Minnesota. Dr. Sessler introduced us to each other and to the department, telling us that the only thing he asked of us was to use our talents to the best of our ability. I was so impressed with him that I told Mary Ellen on the ride home that evening that I wanted to be like him someday.

Little did I know how much of an impression he made on everyone in that room: four of us remained at Mayo Clinic our entire careers and, to the best of our ability, tried to please Dr. Sessler by doing as well as we could. He quietly and slyly (we called him “the silver-haired fox”) inspired and cajoled us into taking on roles...

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