C. Everett Koop, MD, ScD
Dr. C. Everett Koop was born in Brooklyn, on October 14, 1916, graduated from Dartmouth college in 1937 and received his MD degree from Cornell Medical College in 1941. After completing an internship at the Pennsylvania Hospital, he pursued postgraduate training at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Medicine, Boston Children’s Hospital. After promotions up the academic ladder, he was named Professor of Pediatric Surgery, School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania in 1959 and Professor of Pediatrics in 1971. Most recently he was the Elizabeth DeCamp McInerny Professor of Surgery at Dartmouth Medical School.
A pediatric surgeon with an international reputation, Dr. Koop became Pediatric Surgeon-in-Chief of Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia in 1948 and served in that capacity until he left academia in 1981. He was the founding Editor-in-chief of the Journal of Pediatric Surgery and served in that capacity for eleven years.
Dr. Koop was appointed Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health, U.S. Public Health Service (PHS) in March 1981 and sworn in as Surgeon General on November 17, 1981. Additionally, he was appointed Director of the Office of International Health in May 1982. As Surgeon General, Dr. Koop oversaw the activities of the 6,000 member PHS Commissioned Corps and advised the public on health matters such as smoking and health, diet and nutrition, environmental health hazards, and the importance of immunization and disease prevention. He also became the government’s chief spokesperson on AIDS. After two four-year terms as Surgeon General, he continued to educate the public about health issues through his writings, the electronic media, and as Senior Scholar of the C. Everett Koop Institute at Dartmouth.
Dr. Koop was a member of the American Surgical Association, the Society of University Surgeons, the American Pediatric Surgical Association, the Institute of Medicine, the American Philosophical Society, and other professional societies in the U.S. and abroad. He was a Welfare Medalist of the National Academy of Sciences. He was a fellow of the American College of Surgeons, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the Society of Behavioral Medicine and a member of the American College of Preventive Medicine. Dr. Koop was Chairman Emeritus of the National Health Museum, was chairman of the National SAFE KIDS Campaign for thirteen years, is Honorary Chairman of the Health Project, and a former Director of Biopure Corporation.
The recipient of numerous honors and awards including 41 honorary doctorates, he was awarded the Denis Brown Gold Medal by the British Association of Paediatric Surgeons; the William E. Ladd Gold Medal of the American Academy of Pediatrics in recognition of outstanding contributions to the field of pediatric surgery; the Order of the Duarte, Sanchez, and Mella, the highest award of the Dominican Republic, for his achievement in separating the conjoined Dominican twins; and a number of other awards from civic, religious, medical and philanthropic organizations. He was awarded the Medal of the Legion of Honor by France in 1980, inducted into the Royal College of Surgeons of England in 1982, the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow in 1987, the Royal Society of Medicine in 1997, and received an Honorary Fellowship from the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburg in 2009.
In May 1983, Dr. Koop was awarded the Public Health Service Distinguished Service Medal in recognition of his extraordinary leadership of the U.S. Public Health Service. After his retirement, he was presented with the Surgeon General’s Exemplary Service Medal and the Surgeon General’s Medallion. In September 1995, Dr. Koop was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Dr. Koop was the author of more than 230 articles and books on the practice of medicine and surgery, biomedical ethics and health policy. He was awarded an Emmy in 1991 in the News and Documentary category for “C. Everett Koop, MD,” a five-part series on health care reform. Two of the shows in this series were awarded Freddies in 1992: Best Film in the category of Aging for “Forever Young” and Best Film in the Category of Family Dynamics for “Listening to Teenagers.”
His wife of 68 years, the former Elizabeth Flanagan, predeceased him in 2007. They have three living children, Allen, Norman, and Elizabeth Thompson, seven grandchildren and six great grandchildren. On April 17, 2010, Dr. Koop married Cora Hogue from Philadelphia.
On February 25, 2013 Dr. Koop passed away peacefully at his home in Hanover, New Hampshire. Please read The Health Projects honor of Dr. Koop’s life and legacy.