Former Surgeon General Dr. C. Everett Koop ’37 Dies at 96

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Former Surgeon General of the United States C. Everett Koop ’37, MD, a pioneer in the field of pediatric surgery, a leader in the fight to create a smoke-free nation, and founder of the C. Everett Koop Institute at Dartmouth’s Geisel School of Medicine, died peacefully at his home in Hanover, N.H., today, February 25, 2013. He was 96 years old.

C. Everett Koop

C. Everett Koop is pictured with President Ronald Reagan, who appointed Koop U.S. Surgeon General, on November 17, 1981.

Dr. Koop was known as “America’s Family Doctor” during his time as Surgeon General of the United States, from November 1981 until October 1989. Surgeon General Koop applied his skills as a clinician and healer to address the health challenges of all Americans and all people worldwide.

“Dr. Koop was a giant in medicine. His advocacy made research and education about HIV/AIDS a priority at a time when it was underfunded and misunderstood. It’s hard to overestimate the impact he’s had on the social discourse on health,” said Jim Yong Kim, president of the World Bank and a former Dartmouth president.

In 1992, Dr. Koop returned to Dartmouth to establish the C. Everett Koop Institute, a partnership of educators, scholars, researchers, and practicing physicians dedicated to developing programs addressing critical health care issues. He envisioned the newly created Institute as a place that would shape medical school curricula to create “a doctor for the 21st century, grounded in science and Hippocratic principles, but infused with the necessity of focusing on the needs of the individual, the family, and the community.”

Current Dartmouth President Carol L. Folt said Koop “did more than take care of his individual patients—he taught all of us about critical health issues that affect our larger society. Through that knowledge, he empowered each of us to improve our own well-being and quality of life. Dr. Koop’s commitment to education allowed him to do something most physicians can only dream of: improving the health of millions of people worldwide.”

Dean of the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth Wiley W. Souba, MD, said, “Dr. Koop has had a profound influence on the health of all of us in our nation. We have been fortunate to have him in our midst at Dartmouth and at the Geisel School of Medicine. He constantly reminded us of the important lessons that he learned in his professional life of caring for children that could show us how to provide health care for people of all ages.”