PROVIDENCE, R.I. – David Greer, a doctor who co-founded a group that won the 1985 Nobel Peace Prize for working to prevent nuclear war and who helped transform the medical school at Brown University, has died. He was 89.
Greer was a founding director of the Nobel-winning International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War. He had heart disease and died Tuesday at his home in Fall River, Massachusetts, said his daughter, Linda Greer.
In awarding Greer’s Boston-based organization the peace prize, the Norwegian Nobel Committee said it had “performed a considerable service to mankind by spreading authoritative information and by creating an awareness of the catastrophic consequences of atomic warfare.”
Linda Greer said Thursday that her father was a “very modest man” and was reluctant to take any personal credit for the award.
Colleagues from Brown said Greer was a “visionary” who taught students about social responsibility. He was Brown’s dean of medicine from 1981 to 1992.
“His mantra was that medical students had to be science savvy but socially responsible physicians, and his own career in Fall River and Rhode Island were exemplary of that,” said Dr. David Lewis, who worked with Greer to establish a centre for alcohol and addiction studies at Brown.
Greer moved to Fall River nearly 60 years ago to practice medicine in a community that didn’t have enough physicians, then went to Brown to train the next generation of primary care physicians, Linda Greer said.
Greer continued to volunteer with local organizations as he advanced at Brown. Bristol Community College President Jack Sbrega said Greer made tremendous contributions as a member of its board of trustees and worked to improve the quality of the educational experience.
“It was very important to us to have the wisdom he brings to the table,” he said.
At Brown, Greer founded and led departments for family medicine and community health and a gerontology centre.
“He was a visionary in terms of seeing paths for bringing folks together in ways that often were not the standard or normal approach,” said Vince Mor, a Brown professor and longtime friend of Greer.
Greer was born in New York City’s Brooklyn borough and went to community college before enlisting in the armed forces during World War II. He enrolled at the University of Notre Dame after the war. He studied medicine at the University of Chicago and did his residency at Yale University.
After retiring from Brown, Greer served as the medical director for a health care centre in Fall River until 1998.
Greer recently helped with a fundraiser for the local YMCA and was planning on doing more volunteer work to keep busy since Marion, his wife of 64 years, died seven weeks ago, Linda Greer said.
“He stayed very rooted in where he came from and the importance of community,” she said. “Even as his stage became this very giant world stage, that’s how I think about him.”