Remembering Rick…

As we are in the holiday season, it’s appropriate to reflect on those who we have lost. Earlier this month, at our 25th anniversary celebration (which you can see the videos here), Health Access took a moment to memorialize Dr. Rick Brown, who was a founder and ally and friend to the organization, both in his role as the director of the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research, as the founder and director of the California Health Interview Survey, and personally with his own advocacy and activism. A full website to his memory is online.

I was pleased to be a speaker earlier in the year at a symposium in his honor, when he was stepping down as chair of the department. After his passing, he had been honored again UCLA, by the American Public Health Association, and elsewhere. But we thought it important to have a final farewell to honor him not just as an academic but as advocate and activist in his own right.  At the Health Access reception, his UCLA colleague Dylan Roby and our own Beth Capell gave warm and thoughtful remarks, and his widow Marianne Brown sent some thoughts as well, which we thought we should post here as well.

Thoughts on the 25th Anniversary Celebration of Health Access
Marianne Parker Brown, widow of E. Richard “Rick” Brown
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to share a few thoughts related to my dear husband of nearly 46 years, Rick Brown, who died of a massive stroke after chairing a session at a public health conference at the University of Kentucky this past April.
Rick, one of the founders of Health Access, always saw it as a preeminent health care consumer organization in our Golden State.  Looking back at my e-mails recently I see ones from Rick this time of year saying, “Health Access is very effective…it’s time to send them some more money.”
At this time in California, if Rick were still alive I think he would be one of those encouraging Health Access to advocate for low-income children, and their families, with respect to the Governor’s decision to end the Healthy Families program and switch them to Medi-Cal prior to full implementation of the Affordable Care Act.  He also would support efforts to get our legislature to create on time the required set of rules to clear the way for millions of Californians to be covered by our new state-run insurance market under the ACA.  He would, indeed, be very proud of his home state which now has a reputation as being a key laboratory for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
Please let me close with a quote one of Rick’s students sent soon after he died.  It is from Albert Einstein:
Quote:  “Strange is our situation here upon earth.  Each of us comes for a short visit, not knowing why, yet sometimes seeming to a divine purpose.  From the standpoint of daily life, however, there is one thing we do know: that we are here for the sake of others….for the countless unknown souls whose fate we are connected by a bond of sympathy.  Many times a day I realize how much my outer and inner life is built upon the labors of people, both living and dead, and how earnestly I must exert myself in order to give in return as much as I have received.”  End Quote.
This student, who went on to become a doctor, closed by saying, “Dr. Brown gave much in his life for the sake of others.  I count myself fortunate to have been his student.” 
And of course, we, his family, feel so fortunate to have had Rick as a loving husband, father, brother and brother-in law during his 70 years….for us, he was, to quote Bob Dylan’s song,  “Forever Young.”

Health Access California promotes quality, affordable health care for all Californians.