Tribute to late Dr. Eugene Weiss
Tribute to Late Dr. Eugene Weiss; Statement on the Death of Dr. Eugene Weiss
The passing away into glory of Dr. Eugene Weiss on Tuesday, 6th of March at the age of 71 was received in Nigeria with considerable sadness. Both Mrs Grace Ebun Delano and Prof. Oladapo A. Ladipo, had the unique privilege of meeting Gene, as he was usually called by his friends, about three decades ago while we were implementing a USAID funded Community Based Distribution Project at Akinyele Local Government, Oyo state, Nigeria. Perhaps, because he was well trained travelled in Asia/Africa, he adapted to the Nigerian culture without any reservations. Hence, we bonded very well, sharing the same vision for a successful project that we passionately implemented.
The success of this project was palpable from both the beneficiaries acknowledgement and the use of our experience and lessons learnt to influence the Primary Health Care Strategy that was at that time being developed by the then Honourable Minister of Health, Prof. Olukoye Ransome Kuti. Some of our staff were often invited to provide technical advice. Without any doubt this was made possible because of Gene, who spared no moment to be the voice of the voiceless when there was need for staff to acquire training/operational skills, or through his own personal effort and sacrifice advancing the course of the project.
As our friendship blossomed as a result of our shared passion for improved reproductive Health of our people, Gene and staff of the centre for population and family Health under the leadership of Late Alex Rosefield funded a conference on Community Based Distribution project at the University of Ibadan attended by scholars from within and outside Nigeria. Gene was instrumental to documenting of the CBD project that was later aired in USA cable TV for quite some time, thus giving visibility to the project with both Mrs Delano and myself as the principal actors.
At this point, we realised that there was much more work to do to improve the appalling reproductive health bio data of our citizens. Motivated and informed about our being on the Board of some US based NGOs, we began a dialogue with Gene on establishing an NGO that will stand the test of time, not owned by us but to be held in trust for generation yet born. The concept of living a legacy resonated well and Gene was again in the driving seat scouting for grants, especially from private foundations. Macarthur Foundation gave us a grant through Columbia University CFPFH and part of the grant was used to establish the Association for Reproductive and Family Health (ARFH) in 1989. Gene until his death was not only an advisor to the Board of Trustee but was a generous donor who donated $1000 annually in support of the Internet Cafe named after him located at our Head Office in Ibadan, south West Nigeria. We learnt from Gene that one needs a creative mind to be innovative, courageous and a competitive spirit to win. Gene indeed was a great story of hardwork, perseverance, courage and foresight. He had all the necessary skills, both social and professional and remarkable emotional intelligent, warmth of personality and strength of character that will forever guide what ARFH stands for.
ARFH is writing a book of our CBD experience and the book will be dedicated to Late Prof O.A. Ojo (our mentor), Late Mrs Fakunle (lady who played a leadership role in our CBD project and Late Gene Weiss our very bosom friend who displayed a high sense of loyalty in his lifetime. We are consoled by the fact that his relentless efforts to bring development to the poor and helpless yielded fruit during his lifetime. We are indeed privileged to have known him. We miss him dearly. May his beautiful soul rest in perfect peace and may light perpetually shine on his soul.
Prof. O.A. Ladipo FRCOG,OON
Mrs Grace Ebun Delano
Vice President/Executive Director