Julius B. Richmond, former U.S. Surgeon General and Professor of Health Policy, Emeritus, dies

Julius Richmond

For immediate release: July 31, 2008

Boston, MA — Julius B. Richmond, a former U.S. Surgeon General and Professor of Health Policy,Emeritus, died at home in Chestnut Hill, MA, on Sunday, July 27, 2008. He was 91. Dr. Richmond issued the momentous 1979 report Smoking and Health, set targets for the health of the American public with the Healthy People report, and was the first national director of the Head Start Program.

During his time at Harvard, Dr. Richmond held positions at HSPH, Harvard Medical School, and the Harvard Kennedy School. HSPH’s highest honor is named for him — the Julius B. Richmond Award, which recognizes individuals who, like Dr. Richmond, have promoted and achieved high standards for public health conditions in vulnerable populations. The award was established in 1997, when Donna Shalala, Former Secretary of Health and Human Services, received it. Last year, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York City was honored. Dr. Richmond was an active participant and speaker at the award ceremonies.

“It was an enormous privilege for me to work with Julie during my deanship,” said Barry R. Bloom, Dean of Harvard School of Public Health. “Whether I was seeking his advice on issues of children’s health or tobacco control, honoring him at the annual Julius B. Richmond Award event, or running into him in the HSPH cafeteria, which he visited regularly, he was always fully engaged in pursuing his many passionate interests in health with incredible energy. His presence will be sorely missed, but he will continue to inspire us.”

In 2006, a celebratory symposium was held to honor the birthday, life, and work of Dr. Richmond, and to launch what was then the newly established, University-wide Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University. The event was co-sponsored by the HSPH Office of the Dean, HSPH François-Xavier Bagnoud Center for Health and Human Rights, Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University, Harvard Dental School, Children’s Hospital, Boston, Harvard Graduate School of Education, and Harvard Medical School Department of Social Medicine (now named Global Health and Social Medicine).

Said Jack P. Shonkoff, Julius B. Richmond FAMRI Professor of Child Health and Development and Director of the Center on the Developing Child: “Julie Richmond was an intellectual giant and a social activist with a gentle spirit. Through public example and personal relationships, he inspired thousands of leaders who have made the world a better place for millions of children.”

Dr. Richmond was trained in pediatrics and child development and worked to introduce psychosocial development into pediatric education, research and services. He received his undergraduate degree from the University of Illinois in 1937 and his MD from the University of Illinois School of Medicine in 1939. He served in the Army Air Force as a flight surgeon from 1942 to 1946. He returned to the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Illinois, and served as Director of the Institute of Juvenile Research in Chicago.

In 1953, Dr. Richmond became chairman of the Department of Pediatrics at SUNY Upstate Medical Center in Syracuse. He rose to the position of Dean. During his tenure there, he completed collaborative work with Bettye Caldwell on the development of young children growing up in poverty, which led to his appointment in 1965 as the first director of the national Head Start program. He also served as assistant director for health affairs of the Office of Economic Opportunity.

From 1977 to 1981, Dr. Richmond served as U.S. Surgeon General and Assistant Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services. As Surgeon General he re-invigorated tobacco control efforts through the release of the 1979 Surgeon General’s report Smoking and Health that presented considerable scientific evidence of the multiple harms of smoking. That same year, Richmond issued the landmark report, Healthy People: The Surgeon-General’s Report on Health Promotion and Disease Prevention. This report established quantitative health goals for the nation for the next decade. A committed advocate, he also chaired the steering committee of the Forum on the Future of Families and Children of the National Academy of Sciences from 1987 to 1993.

Dr. Richmond served in a number of prominent positions in the Harvard community. He was Professor of Health Policy and Professor of Preventive and Social Medicine at HSPH. He was Director of the Judge Baker Children’s Center from 1971 to 1977. He was Director of the Division of Health Policy Research and Education at Harvard University. He also served as Professor of Child Psychiatry and Human Development at Harvard Medical School as well as Chairman of Psychiatry at Children’s Hospital.

Dr. Richmond received numerous awards, including the C. Anderson Aldrich Award of the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Gustav O. Lienhard Award and the Walsh McDermott Medal of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences, the John Howland Award of the American Pediatric Society, the Sedgwick Medal from the American Public Health Association, and the Heinz Award for Public Policy.

Dr. Richmond was predeceased by his wife Rhee and his son Dale. He is survived by his wife Jean Berger Richmond; two sons, Charles of Indianapolis, IN, and Barry of Bethesda, MD; two stepsons, Steven Berger of West Lafayette, IN, and Michael Berger of Detroit, MI; four grandsons, Joshua, Jay, Nathaniel and Ian; and five step-granddaughters, Shelly, Heather, Deborah, Shauna, and Miriam.

The family is planning a private funeral. A memorial service will be held in the fall. Memorial contributions may be made to the AAP — Dale Richmond/Justin Coleman Award Fund, American Academy of Pediatrics, Development Lockbox, 38367 Eagle Way, Chicago, IL 60678-1383, and to The Dale and Rhee Richmond Memorial Scholarship Fund, c/o University of Chicago, 5801 South Ellis Street, 3rd Floor, Chicago, IL  60637.


For further information contact: Christina Roache, croache@hsph.harvard.edu, (617) 432-6052.


Harvard School of Public Health (www.hsph.harvard.edu) is dedicated to advancing the public’s health through learning, discovery, and communication. More than 400 faculty members are engaged in teaching and training the 1,000-plus student body in a broad spectrum of disciplines crucial to the health and well being of individuals and populations around the world. Programs and projects range from the molecular biology of AIDS vaccines to the epidemiology of cancer; from risk analysis to violence prevention; from maternal and children’s health to quality of care measurement; from health care management to international health and human rights. For more information on the school visit: https://www.hsph.harvard.edu