A photo of Lawrence Linder, taken just a few hours before his death, shows the emergency medicine doctor triumphant, with two thumbs up raised above his head, while on a hiking trip in Nepal surrounded by prayer flags.
Linder, a retired CEO of the University of Maryland Community Medical Group, died of a brain hemorrhage on May 1 while hiking Mount Everest. At the time of his death, he was at an altitude of 15,600 feet. He was 56.
“He died doing what he loved,” said Linder’s wife, Jeanette Linder, chief of radiation oncology at the Alvin & Lois Lapidus Cancer Institute at LifeBridge Health in Baltimore. “He died of something that could have killed him at home by himself. But it was better to be in the mountains surrounded by very close friends.”
In addition to being an accomplished climber — he climbed Denali, the Atlas Mountains and Mount Kilimanjaro twice, in addition to Mount Everest — Linder, who lived in Maryland but was born in Philadelphia and raised in Bucks County, was a daredevil, a musician and a world traveler, relatives said.
“He was a renaissance man who could do everything,” Jeanette Linder said. “He was brilliant. He was the smartest person I knew. … He was afraid of just about nothing.”
Growing up, Linder attended Central Bucks East High School and Reform Congregation Keneseth Israel (KI), where his father worked as the literature and grammatics teacher and his mother served as assistant principal.
“He was always climbing something,” Irwin Linder said. “He liked to live life on the edge. Maybe that’s why he became an ER doctor.”
Irwin Linder said he started teaching Linder to play the piano at age 3. At 4 years old, he would play during intermissions at KI performances, too young to realize he should have stage fright. By the time he was 6, he had been offered a position playing classical piano at the Wanamaker’s in Abington.
After high school, Linder went on to Franklin & Marshall College as an undergraduate and the University of Pennsylvania for medical school. He did his internship and residency at Christiana Hospital in Newark, Del.
Lawrence and Jeanette Linder met at the University of Pennsylvania library. They had a prenup, which stipulated that Jeanette needed to learn how to ski, that she would raft the Grand Canyon with him and that he was allowed to travel two months of the year. In exchange, Jeanette said, “I got him.”
Before his last position at the University of Maryland Community Medical Group, he held positions as director of emergency medicine and chief medical officer at the University of Maryland Baltimore Washington Medical Center. He had retired 10 months before his death.
“He was like, ‘I need to travel, and I need to do things that I want to do before I can’t do them anymore,’” said Kaylie Linder, Linder’s 21-year-old daughter who studies music business at New York University. “His job was taking such a big toll on his health. He retired 10 months ago, and he lost 40 pounds. He got so, so healthy.”
Kaylie Linder said she and her father had a lot in common, such as their passion for music. Even after she went away to college, they would talk on the phone almost every day, and he would come up to New York City for about two long weekends every semester. During those weekends, she said, they would see four or five shows. They were also big foodies and ate every kind of food, from a nine-course meal at Per Se in New York to hot dogs at Home Depot.
Linder, his wife and daughter were planning a raft trip through the Grand Canyon next May. It would have been Linder’s eighth time rafting that canyon. He also scuba dived, parachuted and hang glided.
“We were supposed to go snowshoeing in Iceland up to the Northern Lights,” Jeanette Linder said. “Of course, he wanted to keep rafting the canyon. He just wanted to always be out in the mountains. That’s where he felt closest to God.”
Linder is survived by his parents, Irwin and Rita; his wife, Jeanette; his daughter, Kaylie; and a brother, David.
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