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Anti-Tobacco Surgeon General and Head Start Founder Dies

Parents everywhere have lost a champion. Dr. Julius B Richmond, a former US Surgeon General, died on Sunday, July 27, 2008. He was 91.

Dr. Richmond was the Surgeon General from 1977 through 1981. He was responsible for the release of evidence that connected smoking with harmful side effects. He was so influential in this movement that the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) named a program in his honor. The Julius B. Richmond Center of Excellence is committed to eliminating children?s exposure to tobacco and secondhand smoke.

He received his medical degree in 1939. Dr. Richmond had a long and distinguished career in medicine, first serving as a flight surgeon in WWII. He returned home to become a professor at the University of Illinois, SUNY and Harvard.

He impacted millions of people when he launched Head Start, a preschool program for low income families in 1965. Dr. Errol Alden, CEO of the AAP said, ?As the father of Head Start, he launched an incredibly successful program that would go on to help more than 25 million children develop the social and cognitive skills they need to succeed in school. He was an incredible man, and we will miss him terribly.”

Dr. Richmond helped President Johnson set up Neighborhood Health Centers. Fourteen million people in the US can still get medical care in nearly 1000 federally approved community health centers. These clinics provide services such as prenatal care, cancer screenings, and diabetes treatment. Unlike many other federal programs from the 1960s, this one is alive and well, and still growing.

In addition to Dr. Richmond?s anti-tobacco campaign, he also established the first health goals for the nation as Surgeon General. He returned to service after his tenure as Surgeon General until 1988 when he retired.

Not many doctors can earn the status or the acclaim of Dr. Richmond, but hundreds of family physicians plod away, treating ear infections and signing athletic check-up forms day after day. They deserve our thanks and appreciation for the tireless work they do on behalf of our children. Take a moment and tell us about your wonderful doctor!

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