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Histology Remembers Lena Spencer

By: Diane Sterchi, MS, HT (ASCP), HTL (ASCP)


Lena was a good friend and mentor to me for many years. I met her over 30 years ago when she was the NSH Region 4 Director. At the first meeting I was a Histotechnologist for only 6 or 7 years and I wanted to be her friend and learn as much as I could from her. This was very odd for me since I really don’t have that kind of personality that I go out of my way to make a person a friend. She made it easy because I think she thought of everyone as a friend. I admired her for her kindness, soft spoken, never saying an unkind word about or to anyone, even though she can look pretty grumpy and was quiet before she has her first diet coke for the day. My favorite memory is when she was asked a question, she would give it thought, and then answer with a question. This was her way of letting you figure out the answer. She may know the answer but she always wanted techs to learn by finding the answers on their own. And believe me, she had me thinking hard all the time. She was a great NSH President and educator throughout her NSH membership and a great model spokeswoman for the field of Histotechnology and NSH.


We spent a lot of time together on different committees, grading sessions, and meetings. She was a member on the team of graders for the ASCP HT/HTL certification practicum for many years and she was one of the 6 technologists that graded the last practicum session. She served on the HT/HTL exam committee for many years as a member of the committee and then as the NSH Liaison. During all her busy time Lena, Dr. Carson, and Dr. Brown had this crazy idea to develop a program where a histology lab performance could be evaluated and then help improve labs' practices where needed. This became the CAP/NSH Histology Quality Improvement Program (HISTO QIP). This has grown from around 75 labs applied for the first round and is now up in the thousands and from all around the world. She was proud of that coming together.


Lena has won many awards and had told me that she was honored the most when she received the NSH Luminary. She truly deserved that honor for her lifetime work with histotechnology. Sadly, I didn’t have a chance to speak with her when she recently received the NSH Histotechnologist of the Decade award. I did send her a note. You can watch the clip of Lena's acceptance here.


Lena has accomplished so many good things in her life and not only in histotechnology. She would always find time for her furry friends (St. Bernard’s) who needed homes, assist with organization of the Kentucky Derby parades, spending time with her family, and much more. She has a countless number of friends who will miss her greatly.


I am one who will miss her deeply. I loved having her for a friend and mentor. I admired her for; I never heard her swear, yell at someone, or take a drink of alcohol. She was a very giving and kind person. Her courage and bravery will continue to inspire me for the rest of my life. I wish I would have told her what a difference she made to me as a person.

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