We never know how many people we touch, directly or indirectly, by what we do. Dr Robert Haggerty, who passed away in January, improved the lives of countless children in every corner of the world, employing his many skills and interests with tireless dedication. I was fortunate to have him as a mentor, role model, and friend.
In 1964, I was a green intern when Bob arrived in Rochester as chair of the Department of Pediatrics. He soon endeared himself to the house staff with his clear thinking and warm and relaxed manner. Although he was not primarily a practitioner, he impressed us with his clinical acumen. We also discovered that he could predict the future. He defined the “new morbidity,” in which pediatricians would be less occupied with treating infectious diseases and busy dealing with developmental, psychological, and social disorders. His predictions came true; when I left practice after 35 years, 40% of my time was occupied with those problems. Through the generosity of Bob and his colleague Stan Friedman and their families, the Haggerty-Friedman Fund supports developmental and behavioral teaching and research at the University of Rochester.
As a result of his seminal work in the area of community pediatrics, Bob was instrumental in establishing a network of neighborhood health centers that brought private-like care to residents of inner city Rochester. His work as President of the W.T. Grant Foundation led to support of a wide range of programs and studies.
I have never met anyone as well-traveled as Bob and his wife and chief supporter, Muriel. In their lake home they had a world map on the wall with a forest of colored pins marking all the places they had been. Bob served as Executive Director of the International Pediatric Association, a position that added myriad pins. Closer to home, he was President of the American Academy of Pediatrics, a position requiring extreme dedication, which took him to foreign lands as well.
Visualize how many children have been touched, through their pediatric clinicians, by his serving as Associate Editor of The New England Journal of Medicine and Pediatrics, as well as through the practitioner’s best friend, Pediatrics in Review, which he conceived, founded, and edited.
To list all of Bob Haggerty’s accomplishments and awards would take many pages. I see him now, comparing notes on our raspberry patches and filling me in on his grandchildren’s activities, all the while reaching out to all children in so many ways. A life well lived!