I sincerely appreciate the support and confidence of the Western Surgical Association for allowing me to serve as your president; this has been one of the highlights of my professional career. I am extremely grateful, and thank you for giving me this opportunity. In reflecting about this event, it is clear that I have been fortunate to have been nurtured by some very special people who were outstanding educators and had the rare gift of stimulating a young resident's intellectual curiosity and desire to learn. Frank C. Spencer, MD, chairman of the Department of Surgery at New York University, New York, NY, aroused my interest in an academic career when I was a general surgery resident and gave me my first job as a member of the faculty. H. William Clatworthy, Jr, MD, professor of Pediatric Surgery at Ohio State University and the Children's Hospital in Columbus, was my mentor, who not only taught me the "nuts and bolts" of pediatric surgery but also asked the questions for which there were no answers and pushed the thought process to the limit. He taught a very special, unique philosophy of caring for infants and children. The late John E. Jesseph, MD, my predecessor as chairman of the Department of Surgery at Indiana University, recruited me to Indianapolis as a pediatric surgeon. Jack was a steady influence, a good friend, and a great patriot who gave me a chance to "run with the ball" and allowed me to be that person who was in the right place at the right time. He also was my sponsor for membership in the Western Surgical Association.