Remembering Irv Emanuel

Irv Emanuel

Irv Emanuel, long time UUC member, active in the men’s group and beloved friend of many, passed away February 15 under hospice care in Seattle. He was 92. He is survived by his two daughters Ginamarie and Melissa, both of Seattle.

Irv was a self-described wanderer and polymath, whose early training as an anthropologist led him into international medicine and public health. He did field work in Taiwan, the Solomon Islands, the United Kingdom, rural Alaska, the Philippines and Thailand, as well as extensive work in Washington State.

As a pediatrician, his research on causes of low birthweight and infant mortality led to the recognition, now widespread, that maternal health was a major predictor of child health. He identified maternal smoking and socioeconomic status as major predictors of early childhood health, and he was one of the first to recognize that nutrient deficiencies caused spina bifida. Irv was a giant in the field who founded the UW’s Maternal and Child Health Program and served as the first director of the UW’s Center on Human Development and Disability. An endowed fellowship in his name at UW’s School of Public Health was created in 2016. You can read more about Irv’s influential work here.

A celebration of Irv’s life is currently being planned, and information about it will be forthcoming.