Stan Brock, legendary founder and president of Remote Area Medical and early television host of “Wild Kingdom,” died Aug. 29 at RAM headquarters in Rockford at the age of 82. His death was announced on Twitter by RAM which added: “Through his leadership, RAM has provided free (medical and dental) care to more than 740,000 individuals.”
I got to know Stan Brock several years ago when I worked with him on plans for a women’s hospital on southwestern Guyana.
After the TV show “Wild Kingdom” ended, Stan and his father used the money he had earned to buy the land and build one of the world’s largest cattle ranches in the remote southwestern part of British Guyana. The regional tribal people, most of them Amerindians, were his labor force for the ranch.
When Guyana got its independence, the government nationalized his ranch. Stan then used his money to found Remote Area Medical services. One of early outreaches was providing health care for the Amerindians, which the coastal government of Guyana largely ignored. For unknown reasons, the Indian women have one of the world’s highest rates of cervical cancer.
Stan flew in heavy equipment and built an airstrip to fly in volunteer American doctors and nurses to test and treat these women and children. Since there were no labs in Guyana, pap smears were brought back to the U.S. for testing. The government would not allow Stan to build a hospital for the Indians, but they would allow him to build a veterinary hospital for the cattle ranch.
So, Stan built a women’s hospital in the middle of thousands of cattle to treat the native people.
That’s to say nothing of the poor across America that RAM serves every year. If you want to understand the health crisis in America, just volunteer once for a RAM Clinic. You can sign up on the Remote Area Medical website.
Nurses and doctors from across the country volunteer their time, at their own expense, to come serve the thousands who often camp out a day or more to be seen. I have never admired anyone more than I admire Stan Brock. He was humble, kind and gracious. He also never took no for an answer. He just quietly went on with his humanitarian work. One of the truly great people of the last century.