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The Atlantic Philanthropies mourn the loss of Robert Butler

Resource type: News

The Atlantic Philanthropies |

BUTLER – Robert N., M.D., 83, died on July 4. His friends at The Atlantic Philanthropies mourn the loss of a towering pioneer who did so much to make the world recognize what may be the most important development of the last century: the transformation of human longevity.

More than 30 years ago, he won the Pulitzer Prize for his book, “Why Survive? Being Old in America.” He was the first head of the National Institute of Aging. He founded the first department of geriatrics in the country. He identified and indelibly labeled the social malady of “ageism.”

He created, built and grew the International Longevity Center which now has offices in 12 countries, an achievement that The Atlantic Philanthropies has been pleased to support over many years. Throughout, Bob worked ceaselessly to teach the public to reject the crude canard of “greedy geezers” and recognize that for the most part, older adults are not dependent, lusting for handouts, but independent, eager to give back to society.

As he wrote 40 years ago, “Older people are as diverse as people in other periods of life, and their patterns of aging vary according to the range they show from health to sickness, from maturity to immaturity, activity to apathy, useful constructive participation to disinterest, from the prevailing stereotype of aging to rich forms of creativity.” Tall, restless, white hair waving in the wind, he personified those words. We are proud of our long association with him, his work and his lasting contributions to the world.

View this obituary in The New York Times

Learn more about the life and work of Dr. Butler