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Dr Benjamin Spock

Dr Benjamin Spock

Birth
New Haven, New Haven County, Connecticut, USA
Death 15 Mar 1998 (aged 94)
La Jolla, San Diego County, California, USA
Burial Rockport, Knox County, Maine, USA
Memorial ID 2565 · View Source
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Medical Pioneer, Olympic Games Gold Medalist Athlete. A noted author of children's health books, he became famous for his work and advocacy in the field of pediatrics. His 1946 book, "The Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care" revolutionized how American parents would raise their children. Born in New Haven, Connecticut, the eldest of six children to a prominent attorney and a devoted mother, he quickly grew up helping to care for his younger siblings. He attended Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts, and then Yale University, where he excelled in athletics, especially the sport of scull (crew team rowing). He won a spot on the United States Olympic Crew team that competed in the 1924 Summer Olympic Games in Paris, France, and won the Gold Medal with his teammates in the Men’s Eights rowing championship meet. After two years at the Yale School of Medicine, he transferred to Columbia University and graduated first in his medical school class in 1929. Specializing in pediatrics, he studied children's psychological needs and the family dynamics. During World War II, he served two years in the United States Navy Medical Corps as a Lieutenant Commander, returning to private practice at the end of the war. Realizing that much of the prevailing theory of child raising, that parents should not be emotionally involved with their child, was flawed, he decided to write a book on how to better raise children. The result was the 1946 best seller, "The Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care," in which he argued that parents were the best experts on their own children. He argued that parents should use their own common sense in areas from discipline to toilet training, being flexible and avoiding a one-size-fits-all attitude on how to raise a child. Arguing that it was alright for parents to love their child, his book differed significantly from the cold authoritarianism approach favored by child rearing books of the day. Critics called this permissiveness, and argued that it would spoil the child and lead to other social problems. The book would go on to sell more than 50 million copies, be translated into 40 languages, and is still in print today. Spock would become a baby care celebrity during the 1950s and 1960s, becoming a household name, while teaching child development at Western Reserve University for 12 years (1955 to 1967). He would write a column on baby care for "Ladies Home Journal" for almost 30 years. He retired from practicing medicine in 1967. When the Vietnam War became a political issue at home, he became a critic of the war and a critic of the nuclear arms race, making him unpopular by many who felt he was speaking out of his element. He participated in anti-nuclear demonstrations during the 1980s and 1990s, and ran for President of the United States in 1972 (on the People's Party ticket). Following a divorce, he married Mary Morgan in 1976, who became his collaborator, assisting in writing his lectures, and helping him write his memoir, "Spock on Spock" (1985). He died in his home in La Jolla, California at the age of 94, having previously suffered a heart attack and several bouts of pneumonia which left him in a weakened condition. He was buried in Rockport, Maine, where he spent his summers.

Bio by: Kit and Morgan Benson


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 1 Jan 2001
  • Find A Grave Memorial 2565
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Dr Benjamin Spock (2 May 1903–15 Mar 1998), Find A Grave Memorial no. 2565, citing Seaview Cemetery, Rockport, Knox County, Maine, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .