Retired physician and educator Dr. Robert Weiss died Tuesday night at his home in Orono with his family at his bedside. He was 90 years old.
A psychiatrist, Weiss founded the Department of Psychiatry at Dartmouth Medical School, served as an associate director of the Center for Community Health and Medical Care at Harvard University and was dean of the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University. After retiring, Weiss and his wife, Minnie, moved to Maine to be near their daughter, Elizabeth, and her family.
Weiss remained politically active in retirement and was an outspoken contributor to public policy debates on energy and health care. He was a passionate supporter of Sen. Barack Obama’s presidential campaign and of Rep. Tom Allen’s campaign to unseat U.S. Sen. Susan Collins.
In July of this year, Weiss, who suffered from pulmonary hypertension, participated in a Bangor Daily News story about hospice care. He voiced strong opinions in favor of allowing terminal illness to take its course versus complying with profit-driven efforts to “squeeze the last inch of life out of people instead of allowing them to die comfortably.”
Weiss said he hoped to die at home with the support of a local hospice provider.
“It’s not that I want to die,” he said. “But I’ve lived a very full life … and it’s perfectly legitimate to expect to die.”
Gov. John Baldacci issued a statement on Wednesday, calling Weiss an “amazing individual” who “contributed greatly to patient-centered care and public health in this country.”
“I admired Bob for the way he worked with people and how he applied his principles to every aspect of his life,” Baldacci said. “He was truly an inspiring man.”