Remembrance: Charles M. Grossman, M.D., co-founder of Physicians for Social Responsibility — Oregon chapter
By Stephen Jones, M.D.
Charles M. Grossman, M.D., a medical staff member since the 1950s, died in his home on July 16, at age 98. He was literally surrounded by family and friends. Characteristically, Charlie remained self-reliant and refused hospitalization in his last few weeks. Likewise, characteristically, he was last seen in public at Medical Grand Rounds on June 12.
Charlie was a 1941 graduate of New York University College of Medicine. After a residency in internal medicine at Yale, where he famously administered the first dose of penicillin given in the United States, he came to Portland in 1947 to be a founding physician of the Northwest Permanente Clinic.
After leaving Permanente, he began his 60-year-long private practice of general internal medicine. Charlie continued his interest in biochemistry and joined the faculties at the University of Oregon Medical School and at Portland State University. He was an officer in the American Federation for Research. While actively seeing patients, he continued to publish peer reviewed articles, 33 at the last count. He never stopped sharing his experiences and opinions in letters to the editor.
Charlie was tireless in his opposition to nuclear weapons. He was a co-founder of the Oregon chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility. Some remember seeing him at the 1990 Rose Festival, in his long white coat, being stuffed into the back seat of a Portland Police car. He had been arrested for protesting the seawall visit of a nuclear-powered warship.
As part of his advocacy for peace, he had friends in Europe and Asia. It is likely that he visited mainland China more often than any other American physician. In addition, he regularly hosted Chinese physicians at his home. He was publically honored by the Chinese government in 2003.
The health of the Portland community has been more robust and sound, and perhaps the world has been more safe and peaceful, due, in some part, to Charlie’s 70 years of committed, spirited, hard work. He will be missed.
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