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Franklyn Prendergast

(Jamaica & Lincoln 1969) (7 March 1945 - 12 October 2023)

Dr Prendergast was a force in science and medicine and a trailblazer in civil rights. In 1995, just 28 years ago, he became the first Black director of an NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center. 

Prendergast was a role model who encouraged young men and women to pursue careers in science and medicine at mainstream institutions. When asked by a young Black physician about it being unusual for a Jamaican to settle in Rochester, MN, he interjected humor, saying, “It’s easy once you get used to the fact that they put white cream sauces on everything.” 

Prendergast laughed, further reflecting on the Nordic cuisine, predominantly Nordic population, and snow-covered landscape. 

He then added: “I am talking about more than just food.”

Dr. Prendergast and a very small number of peers literally opened doors, creating opportunities for minorities in medicine. One should not underestimate the importance of men and women like Prendergast, who demonstrated what Black people and minorities could accomplish with utmost competence. His opening of minds and widespread acceptance created opportunities for others. 

Read the full obituary here.