February 26, 2012
Former Surgeon General, C. Everett Koop died Monday at his home in Hanover, N.H., died Monday at his home in Hanover, N.H.. The cause of his death has not been made clear at this point. He was 96.
Koop, nominated by President Reagan in 1981, served seven years as Surgeon General. The evangelical Christian was initially faced with great opposition to his nomination due to his personal views on abortion. Koop, however, was one of the few figures in American history who had the ability to separate his personal views from the politics of it all.
During the AIDS epidemic of the 1980s, Koop became a champion for AIDS research and education, and was heralded by both the homosexual community and AIDS activists alike. The AIDS scare came to an end in 1989, when Koop retired his post. Among the other health issues facing the culture at that time, he declared smoking a public health hazard, pioneering the way for the inquiry into big tobacco corporations.
I had the honor of working with C. Everett Koop, a pediatric surgeon, in the mid-nineties as a PR Agent. Face to face, the enormity of his stature was diluted by his humility and wit. He did of course, however, pull me aside at a gala in 1994 at a gala at the Adam’s Mark Hotel, taking a stern tone after he caught me smoking outside the event. His works, and our conversations left a lasting impression on me to this day.
Sad to see him go, perhaps his passing will not only bring to spotlight his great accomplishments and service to his country, but also serve as a reminder to those in the world of politics that it is possible to put aside the personal, and work for the common good of the people.