Claude Lessard, D.C.
Passion for Learning Leads to Successful Career in Chiropractic
Passionate people are most often successful people. That’s certainly true of Claude Lessard, D.C., a 1977 graduate of Sherman College. According to Lessard’s longtime friend and mentor, Reggie Gold, D.C., Ph.C., “The thing that marked him from the beginning was his passion and his excitement for learning.”
Growing up in the small village of Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupre, in Quebec, Canada, the young Claude never dreamed of the way his life has turned out. His family was part of the village’s French-speaking population of about a thousand, a number that swelled considerably when pilgrims and visitors to the world-renowned Shrine of Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupre descended on it. Chiropractic health care was not a profession he was exposed to.
Claude dropped out of high school in his senior year and went to work in the paper mill cleaning residue from a sulfite treatment plant. It only took 522 days of that to convince him that he needed an education. Opportunities lay south of the border, at St. John’s University in New York, for the young man who spoke only French but was determined to pursue a medical career. While studying in New York, he married Sara, a New Yorker he had first met when she was on a pilgrimage to the Shrine of Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupre, and he began to learn English.
Lessard remembers the day that both his career path and his life changed. “I was walking down Broadway in Manhattan and I heard someone call my name, not in the English pronunciation but in French Canadian,” Lessard said of his surprise meeting with Jean-Claude Boucher, a neighbor from back home. Boucher was studying chiropractic and sold the young man on joining the profession.
Lessard then met Irene Gold, D.C., the wife of Reggie Gold, at a chiropractic college in New York, and she suggested that he travel south to attend Sherman College, then a young school with a growing enrollment. He took a leap of faith and enrolled here.
It’s clear that the model he’s developed for his practice has been successful, because the office serves 400 to 500 people each week. But he also knows that it’s possible to have many different kinds of practices that are uniquely suited to the chiropractors who build them. What he enjoys sharing with students is his philosophy that chiropractic is a partnership between the doctor and the people he serves.
At Lessard Chiropractic in Morrisville, PA, Sara, his wife, who is an artist and spiritual director, assumed responsibility for creating the office environment. Every month she devises a new theme because part of their philosophy, Lessard said, is that “the office environment should never be allowed to become stagnant. We want the reception area to be relaxing, to be conducive to life, constantly flowing and changing,” Lessard said of his wife’s contribution to the success of his practice.
And even though none of his three children became doctors of chiropractic, each plays an essential role in making the practice a success. Tara is office manager and has worked with her father for 20 years. Jeremy serves as doctor’s assistant and an “ambassador for the office,” and Sabrina, an artist like her mother, works as a sculptor in nearby Philadelphia and works part time in her father’s office. “It was my dream, and there it is, a true family practice,” Lessard said. “People recognize that right away.”
Thomas A. Gelardi, D.C., founder and president of Sherman College, remembers Lessard well. “It was an exciting time, and he was a great pioneering student,” Gelardi said. And throughout the years Lessard has remained closely associated with his alma mater, according to Gelardi.” Over the years he has sent many students to the college and has also served as an inspiration for others by coming back often to share his expertise and enthusiasm for chiropractic.
Keeping the connection with Sherman alive has been important to Lessard too.
He considers himself semi-retired and became licensed to fly in 1998. Now he enjoys flying his Cessna four-seater, something that he has developed a passion for as well. In fact, he has used the Cessna to travel back and forth to Sherman to conduct seminars for students or attend Lyceum.
His ability to communicate and connect with students is the by-product of his passion, because sharing his passion for chiropractic and for life is something Lessard feels driven to do. “We make a living by receiving. We make a life by giving,” he explains.
Gold talked about his friend and former student, emphasizing his talent for teaching. “He keeps things simple, gets to the bottom of the subject. That’s his forte. He can reach people at an emotional level.”
Though not a university professor, Lessard certainly has a great deal of knowledge to share with today’s chiropractic students, and through guest lectures can utilize his talents to have an impact on a new generation of chiropractors.