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In Memoriam - Fall 2023

Yale Public Health Magazine, Yale Public Health: Fall 2023


Gerald (Gary) E. Bisbee Jr., MPhil ’75, of New Canaan, Connecticut, passed away on March 10, 2023, with his family by his side. He was born on July 12, 1942, in Waterloo, Iowa, to the late Gerald and Maxine Bisbee. In 1970, he married Linda Ude and together they shared an academic journey, earning Gary an MBA in Finance from the Wharton School and a PhD from Yale University. Healthcare became his area of expertise. Gary’s career included faculty positions at Yale and Northwestern universities and leadership roles at several healthcare companies. He co-founded APACHE Medical Systems, and served on the board of the Cerner Corporation for over 30 years. In 1998, he co-founded the Health Management Academy, whose mission was to convene executives of the largest healthcare systems across the United States to share best practices. The Academy, under Gary’s guidance, produced many of today’s most important healthcare leaders. Most recently, he was the founder of ThinkMedium, a modern day think tank that promotes ideas at the intersection of healthcare strategy, leadership and practice. He also wrote a widely distributed weekly “Bisbee Brief.” He had a deep respect for education and took pride in mentoring young people.

Gary loved life and had many passions. He was a singer and proudly sang the U.S. and Canadian national anthems at a Chicago Blackhawks game. He was a sports fan and an avid cyclist, racing across several states and in France, and doing 15 relay triathlons with his children in Washington, DC, and New York City.

Jonathan Waters Fisher, MPH ’79, died peacefully at the University of Vermont Medical Center after a short, aggressive battle with acute myeloid leukemia. He was gentle, kind and generous and a devoted son, brother, father, grandfather and friend.

Jonathan graduated from the Middlesex School in 1966, where he played soccer and rowed. He graduated from Pomona College in 1971 with a degree in anthropology, after studying primatology with Alan Walker at Makerere University in Uganda. Jonathan earned his master’s in public health at Yale University in 1979, after working on a country-wide nutrition survey in Lesotho.

Between his studies, Jonathan spent time motorcycling across Europe, working in the sugarcane fields of Kauai, summiting Mt. Kilimanjaro and road-tripping across Africa in a VW Beetle, homesteading with his brothers in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom, traveling to Central America by VW bus and working at Plantation Farm Camp in northern California.

In 1981, Jonathan began working at the University of Vermont on a USAID grant that brought him to Honduras, Haiti, and Uganda. He met his wife, Molly McClaskey, while working at UVM, and they married in 1984. Jonathan became a father to his son, William, in 1987 and his daughter, Emily, in 1990.

Valentine Galasyn, MPH ’77, MD, died Friday, December 2, 2022, in Pierce Memorial Baptist Home. He was the loving husband of Aili (Hakkila) Galasyn for 67 years. Born in Hartford, Connecticut, he was the son of the late Stanley and Frances (Kowalsky) Galasyn.

Val’s 30-year career in the U.S. Navy began at the end of WWII when he enlisted at age 17 and continued through the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and submarine patrols throughout the Cold War. He served as a physician for the Navy specializing in environmental and emergency medicine where he earned the rank of Captain. He earned his Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of Illinois, his Medical Degree from the University of Tennessee, and his Master of Public Health from Yale University. He became the director of the Naval Undersea Medical Institute in Groton and helped establish the Emergency Department at Windham Community Memorial Hospital.

He was a member of the Finnish American Heritage Society, Windham County 4-H Foundation, and the Fin, Fur, & Feathers Club. He was a lifetime member of the Connecticut State Medical Association and the NRA. He loved the many dogs he had over the years and enjoyed fishing, hiking, farming, and the outdoors. Taking things apart and fixing them was a lifelong hobby. He was humbled when he was inducted into the Connecticut Veterans Hall of Fame for his military and community service and was a veterans Quilt of Valor recipient in 2018.

Shirley Handler, MS ’53, passed away on Tuesday, April 4, 2023, at the age of 93. Born in 1929, in Boston, Massachusetts, Shirley lived with her family in the Mattapan, Roxbury, and Brighton neighborhoods, and graduated from Brighton High. At the age of 16, she entered Smith College where she earned her B.A. in education and child development. After graduation, she began her long and successful career in health education with a position at the American Cancer Society. While there, she was awarded a fellowship to the Yale School of Public Health where she earned a Master of Science degree. Beginning in 1972, she worked in the Boston Public Schools first as a teacher of health education and health curriculum coordinator and later as the Program Director for Comprehensive Health for the entire school system. In the latter role, Shirley developed and implemented K-12 health curriculum standards and worked with community organizations and state and local officials to develop the drug-free schools program. In 1989, while working full time, she obtained her Ed.D. from the University of Massachusetts. Shirley retired from the BPS in 2001, but almost immediately returned to work. She taught for the next ten years at Cambridge College, where she founded the Health Education Graduate Program. She retired for a second time in 2012, at the age of 80. For her contributions to the field of public health, she received a number of awards including a Lifetime Achievement Award for contribution to the field of comprehensive health education and a Leadership Award from the BPS for service and commitment to the development of young women. She lived for more than thirty years in Needham, before moving to Brookline in 1989.

Michael Huncharek, MPH ’86, died in at the age of 60. Following his Yale degree, he received his MD degree from Boston University and did his residency training in radiation oncology at Harvard. He worked as an oncologist and primary care specialist in Wisconsin, St. Louis, Missouri. and South Carolina. He published numerous articles, including meta-analyses of oncology clinical trials.

Joel Kavet, MPH ’67, ScD, an innovative health care professional and benefactor, a Red Cross volunteer assisting Wounded Warriors at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center for the last 10 years, a Navy veteran of the Cuban Missile Crisis era, and a 48-year resident of Bethesda, Maryland, died April 7, 2023, after a two-year battle with prostate cancer.

Joel was a lifelong learner – interested in everything and everyone. He was passionate about public service and politics. He was a kind and faithful friend. He had a sharp wit and a great sense of humor. He believed in making life better for those he served during his long public health career, and for the many injured veterans and first responders he served during his retirement. Joel also served as a public member for three years on the Board of Professional Responsibility (Ethics) of the District of Columbia Court of Appeals. He earned the admiration of the legal colleagues with whom he served. As Director of Managed Care Program Development & Research at The United Mine Workers of America Health and Retirement Funds, Joel created a landmark program, MineRx, widely recognized as a national model for consumer-directed safe use of medications.

He devoted his professional life in both the public and private sector to developing health policies to ameliorate the economic impacts of disease. In August 2022 Joel endowed the "Joel Kavet, MPH '67, ScD and Robert Kavet, MS, ScD Scholarship Fund" at Yale School of Public Health, a gift matched by funds from the school. This award embodied Joel's belief that solutions to complicated public health issues require an educational system fed by motivated students prepared to tackle today's and tomorrow's problems.

At Harvard, he developed a lifetime friendship with Rashi Fein (and his family), a noted economist and health policy expert, whom Joel regarded as a mentor. After Fein's death in 2014, Joel assisted in establishing the Rashi Fein Internship in Health Policy. It seeks outstanding students interested in promoting equitable access to high quality, affordable, cost-effective health care. Until recently, Joel was active in reviewing applications for this prestigious award.

It was in his volunteer work post-retirement that Joel's passion for public service was most on display. In 2012, Joel became a Red Cross Volunteer supporting Occupational Therapy Assistive Technology at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. Sometimes referred to as the "Wounded Warrior" section of the hospital, Assistive Technology designs a prosthetic or technical solution tailored to the needs of an individual veteran suffering the scars of his or her service. His colleagues, military staff, and the veterans receiving treatment all grew to love and respect Joel for his dedication and kindness of spirit.

A graduate of the U.S. Navy Reserve Officers’ Training Corps program at RPI, Joel spent two years as a Lieutenant serving on a radar picket ship, USS Investigator, during the Cuban Missile Crisis naval blockade.

Marjorie Nelson, MPH ’73, MD, of State College, Pennsylvania, passed away following a stroke. Marjorie was born in Kokomo, Indiana [June 24, 1939] to Earl and Elda Nelson. She graduated from Kokomo High School and continued to receive a Bachelor of Science from Earlham College, then earned a Doctor of Medicine degree from Indiana University in 1965. She completed both her internship and her residency at the Pennsylvania Hospital. Her first two months of residency were spent on the hospital ship, Hope, serving medical needs of people in Guinea and Sierra Leone.

During her residency Marjorie was deeply involved in the Quaker organization, Young Friends of North America (YFNA). Twice she attended international meetings of the Prague Christian Youth Peace Conference as YFNA's representative. The Vietnam War was raging and in September 1967 Marjorie was on her way to Vietnam with the American Friends Service Committee to provide medical care to civilians suffering from the ravages of the war. Three months into her medical work in Quang Ngai, on a visit to Hue, during the Tet offensive, she was taken captive by soldiers of the National Liberation Front (NLF). By that time Marjorie was able to converse in the Vietnamese language and was treated respectfully during her two-month captivity, as detailed in her book, To Live in Peace in Midst of the Vietnam War. Following her release Marjorie returned to Quang Ngai for another year to continue serving those suffering from the War.

Marjorie served as medical director of Planned Parenthood until 1977, and as a faculty member of the new Ohio University College of Osteopathic Medicine (OUCOM). Her expertise in public health was important in the early evolution of OUCOM, and her work as a physician was deeply appreciated by her patients and by her professional colleagues in Athens. In Athens she was also a founding member of the Athens Friends Meeting (Quaker). Upon her retirement Marjorie moved to State College, PA, to live at the Quaker retirement community of Foxdale. In State College she became a valued member of both the Foxdale community and of the State College Friends Meeting. During her life Marjorie enjoyed tai chi and archery and was a member of the Society for Creative Anachronism. She also wrote the Star Trek novel, Pawns and Symbols, using the pseudonym Marjliss Larson.

Col. Bobby G. Rowe, MPH ’68, passed away at the age of 87. Bobby was born to Henry and Louise Rowe in Kinston, North Carolina. Growing up he loved his high school days the very most with baseball, friends and life in the 50s. After high school, Bobby enlisted in the United States Air Force, serving four years and benefitting from the GI Bill by attending Campbell University, earning a Liberal Arts degree, and Wake Forest University, earning a B.S. in Sociology. Upon graduation he accepted an Air Force commission in the Medical Service Corps and went on to earn a Master of Public Health from Yale University. He was assigned to the Military Airlift Command, served throughout the world, completing his military career as Hospital Administrator at Langley A.F.B, in Hampton, Virginia, and retired as a full colonel.

Bobby enjoyed coaching and supporting little league baseball, fishing, watching sports, and shopping. He volunteered as a health insurance consultant for the Peninsula Agency on the Aging, and he frequently served as a Baptist preacher throughout his career. Bobby was a great conversationalist. He could talk with anyone, and he did. His children relied on his advice and he will be missed dearly though he lives in their hearts and in their minds.

Keith Tait, MPH ’81, MFS, ’81, passed away on February 9, 2023. He is survived by his daughter. For more than 25 years, Keith traveled globally, promoting occupational hygiene while working at Pfizer. He was an active member of AIHA’s Exposure Assessment and International Affairs Committees and championed the control banding approach. He served as a faculty member at AIHA’s first Fundamentals of Industrial Hygiene Program in India. Keith was also instrumental in supporting India’s first master’s program in industrial hygiene. He visited India and other countries several times to conduct training programs. Keith also served as a president of AIHA’s Metro New York Local Section. In 1998 he was recognized as the local section’s outstanding member. Keith cared so much for everyone who crossed his path. He will be remembered by his many friends and colleagues for his generous spirit, fiery intellect, and passion for our profession.

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