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Dr. Herbert K. Abrams

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Dr. Herbert K. Abrams, a man of untiring spirit and unbridled friendship, passed peacefully at home on July 9, after a three-month battle with leukemia. Just two days shy of his 93rd birthday, he left a legacy of love, strength and compassion. His lifetime goal was helping those in need, and in doing so he kindled the torch of kindness for all. Wisdom and wit, a gentle touch and ready smile, a friendly spirit endeared him to everyone he knew. Honored by many, Herb honored humanity with his work and caring. He and his wife Sofia, of 57 years, were an inseparable team and their home a haven, giving more than they received. Born in Chicago in 1913, Herb attended Marshall High School. He received his undergraduate degree from Northwestern and his medical degree from the University of Illinois and Masters in Public Health from Johns Hopkins. In his life of service, he championed health care for the under served. In 1945, serving his country, he traveled to Mexico, where he met his future wife Sofia, while recruiting doctors for post-war Europe. He was sent to China to work for UNRA, where he helped in the Chinese effort to eradicate cholera. Here he made lifelong friendships and is honored by the Chinese people for his service. Later his work took him to Berkeley. He returned to Chicago in 1952, founding the Union Health Service, neighborhood health centers, and was Professor and Chair, Department of Community Medicine at the Chicago Medical School. Herb relocated to Tucson, AZ, in 1968 to head the Department of Family and Community Medicine at The University of Arizona College of Medicine. In conjunction with this position, he founded the El Rio Health Center. Herb has tirelessly served the Tucson community. In Tucson he was active in many aspects of civic life. Two buildings are named after him: the new Pima County's Herbert K. Abrams Public Health Center and the building for the UA Department of Family and Community Medicine. He recently received the honorable copper letter from the office of the Mayor to Dr. Herbert K. Abrams, Extraordinary Doctor and Citizen...(His) gifts and talents have enriched our lives for many years to come. On July 1, he received the U.S. Surgeon General's Medallion. He is survived by his loving wife, Sofia; daughters Linda Abrams (Stan Gordon); Ellen Abrams (Terry Coleman); and Amy Persechini (Tony); four grandchildren, David and Julie Coleman- Abrams; Dan and Joshua Persechini. The family is grateful to Carondolet Hospice, Chachis, Susan, Dottie, and Rosario, and to the overwhelming love and support of his many friends. A memorial service is set for Saturday, Sept. 2, 2 p.m. at the DuVal Auditorium, University Medical Center, Tucson. Donations to continue his important contributions in public health and family medicine with the University of Arizona can be made in his name to Andrew W. Nichols Initiative, University of Arizona Foundation/COPH, PO Box 245163, Tucson, AZ 86724-5163, or to Herbert K. Abrams Fund, University of Arizona Foundation/DFCM, PO Box 245163, Tucson, AZ 86724-5163.
Published in Chicago Tribune on July 30, 2006
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