“It Isn’t Always Fun.” – Acknowledgements
Many people made my way smoother and my joy richer during the latter part of this “different sort of medical life.”
Ancel Keys did, when he retired as director of the Laboratory of Physiological Hygiene (“the Lab”) in 1972, by continuing his contributions and leaving the day-to-day business to his successors. He appropriately held primary control over data of the Seven Countries Study until well after his monograph was written in 1980.
Dean Lee Stauffer did, by coming to understand and support our loose cannons careering around his decks, yet the Lab’s potential for strengthening the research and training functions of Minnesota’s School of Public Health.
Henry Taylor, as the senior person in the Lab, truly supported me as its director. He was always there, genuinely helpful, low-key, and volunteering for such tough jobs as planning the new physical plant and moving us into it. Even more important was his salty-dog approach to mentoring. He was particularly useful translating my sometimes ambiguous “yes’s, no’s, and maybes” for ambitious, sometimes hard-of-hearing young faculty.
Nedra Foster maintained a calm continuity of administration in our rapid transition from a small independent research laboratory to a large, multifaceted academic institution.
The core LPH staff helped by staying on board, advising, and working hard in the transitions: including Joseph Anderson, Gail Dolliff, Nedra Foster, Rose Hilk, Gretchen Newman, Peg Niebling, and John Vilandre.
The faculty recruits of the first years, 1972-74, that is, Richard Crow, David Jacobs, Art Leon, and Ron Prineas, joined enthusiastically in the fledgling effort. Without them there would have been no “new Lab” at all. Then came the second wave of innovative recruits in the late 1970s, Richard Gillum, Richard Grimm, Robert Jeffrey, Russell Luepker, Maurice Mittelmark, David Murray, Cheryl Perry, and Phyllis Pirie, who helped mount the researches that sustain us even today. Other strong faculty came along later and took us beyond cardiovascular expertise into new fields of epidemiology, prevention, health promotion, and public health.
Colleagues of the American Heart Association provided exposure, credentials, and opportunity, especially Len Cook, Fred Epstein, Darwin Labarthe, Campbell Moses, Richard Ross, and Jerry Stamler nationally, and Karl Anderson, Reuben Berman, John Eusterman, Bob Hohman, and Sandy Seibert locally.
Friends in the USPHS Heart Disease and Stroke Control Program, particularly its chief, Sam Fox, provided fruitful assignments in the 1960s in the burgeoning field of exercise physiology, stress testing, and cardiac prevention and rehabilitation trials.
Jerry Stamler involved me early in the Coronary Drug Project, one of the first multi-center collaborative trials, which provided both a creative outlet and invaluable preparation for future work.
Directors and staff at NHLBI in the early days, including Ted Cooper, Bob Levy, Jerry Green, Bill Zukel, and Bill Friedewald, listened to the scientific community of prevention and then laid out and implemented the Great Leap Forward in cardiovascular disease prevention with a broad research program in which we all participated.
Officers of the International Society and Federation of Cardiology (now the World Heart Federation), mainly Ancel Keys, Paul Dudley White, Henri Denolin, Jean Lequime, Pierre Moret, and Pierre Duchosal, greased the skids for this rookie sledder in international circles.
Colleagues of the Seven Countries Study, eulogized in my first memoir, “On the Trail of Heart Attacks in Seven Countries,” have continued our friendship and research collaboration into 40 years of follow-up. We have come together in three fruitful and joyful reunions, one in Fukuoka in 1993, arranged by Hironori Toshima, and two in Zutphen, led by Daan Kromhout, in 1991 and 2002.
The Cardiovascular Disease Section of the World Health Organization in Geneva was first directed by Zdenek Fefjar, who drafted me and Geoff Rose to write the WHO manual, Cardiovascular Survey Methods, our signature volume. Then Zbynek Pisa and Martti Karvonen brought me into the North Karelia Study and into other WHO expert groups in prevention research and policy, which helped set the course for the field and for our Minnesota efforts.
Colleagues in the American College of Cardiology, including Bob Brandenburg, Bob Frye, Bill Nelligan, and Bill Roberts involved me with the leaders of cardiology who, early on, recognized Preventive Cardiology and Cardiac Rehabilitation as mainstream activities of the field and for the College.
Friends in insurance medicine helped me prosper in the early days. They included local lights in Minnesota: Karl Anderson, Art Breitbarth, Harry Cook, Ernest Klepetar, Felix Rondeau, and later Jeff Sullivan, as well as the national “big dogs” of the industry, particularly Dick Gubner, Bill Hunzicker. Paul Langner, and Harry Ungerleider.
Then there are special folks, now departed, who had unique minds and remarkable personalities, with whom I was more than ordinarily attuned and with whom I expected to spend many rosy sunsets in retirement. I deeply miss the mutual understanding and respect, the humor and affection I shared with them, including: Brian Bronte-Stewart, Fred Epstein, Allen Jaffe, Donald Reid, Dick Remington, Geoff Rose, Stoney Stallones, Joe Stokes, Al Sullivan, Henry Taylor, and Gösta Tibblin, along with my son, John. For helping fill the emptiness left by their premature departures, I am grateful to surviving colleagues here and abroad; I believe they know who they are. Particularly, Russell Luepker, who replaced me as division head when I stepped down in 1990. He has provided both material and moral support for my rich and pleasurable “retired” career.
At this memoir stage of life I am full of gratitude and love for those now closest: my wife, Stacy Richardson, daughters, Katia and Heidi, my three dear grandchildren, John, Lorelei, and Rosalie and nephew, Colin, as well as two remarkable warm cousins, Jean Blackburn and Martha Senger. Then I must invoke my good Florida friend and childhood “nanny,” Thelma Smith, now aged 92 and ever kind and bright. Finally, I enjoy the company of a wonderful extended family of Blackburns and Smiths, Trocmés and Richardsons.
I now have thoughtful collaborators and supporters in an ultimate career undertaking, preserving the history of the vital field of cardiovascular disease epidemiology and research into the prevention of heart attacks and stroke. These include pioneer investigators we interview these days. Some of them, quite touchingly, commit their stories and artifacts and, in effect, their intellectual legacy to my willing if unsure hands. They also include my direct collaborators in the history project, Doris Epstein, Nola Fortner, Felix Gutzwiller, Liesl Hargens, Darwin Labarthe, Ruth Lehman, Russell Luepker, Milt Nichaman, Jan Pearson, Kalevi Pyórälä, and Rick Shekelle, and the main support bodies, the University of Minnesota School of Public Health and Division of Epidemiology, the Councils on Epidemiology and Prevention of the American Heart Association and the World Heart Federation, the Working Group on Epidemiology of the European Society of Cardiology, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, and the National Library of Medicine.
Not least, if last, I acknowledge my delightful colleagues in making music these days: Tony Balluff, John Beach, Charles Devore, Bill Evans, Robb Henry, Stefan Kren, Paul Lagos, Dave McCurdy, Jim Ouska, Bill Pelletier, Dutch Uithoven, and, until his recent death, Dave Ray. All of the above I propose to treat properly and gratefully in a music memoir yet to come, entitled Creole Love Songs.