Harald K. Heggenhougen ’62

Harald K. Heggenhougen ’62 died on August 12, 2020, in Healdsburg, California. 

(The following was published in The Boston Globe on September 4, 2020)

Harald Kristian Heggenhougen (Kris) was born in Notodden, Norway, to parents Rolv and Anna on April 24th, 1940, the same day this small town was invaded by the Germans during WWII. He was followed four years later by his sister, Brit Randi. They spent their formative years there and in the area around Oslo before his parents divorced and he traveled with his mother and sister to New Jersey in the US at the age of fourteen. Kris completed high school in Livingston, New Jersey, and attended college at Bowdoin in Maine, where he received his BA in English and American Literature. He went on to receive an MA in Sociology and a PhD in Anthropology from the New School for Social Research in NYC. Kris worked as a senior lecturer at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (1979-1990), as an associate professor at the Harvard Medical School and the Harvard School of Public Health (1990-1999), as a professor in the Department of International Health and the Department of Anthropology at Boston University (1999-2008) and as an adjunct professor at the Center for International Health at the University of Bergen, Norway (2000-2015). Kris was a fellow of the American Public Health Association and the American Anthropological Association, among others, and was for six years the senior editor for medical anthropology of the journal Social Science and Medicine. Kris was also a consultant to WHO’s EPI (immunization) program in the 1980’s and from 1999 to 2008 he was a member of the WHO’s Committee on Social, Economic and Behavioral Health. In addition to his academic activities, Kris carried out public health consultancy work for UK, Scandinavian and other development agencies in a range of countries from Bhutan to Bolivia. He also carried out extensive health and behavioral/medical anthropological research for several years each in Guatemala, Malaysia and Tanzania. His research interests included but were not limited to the interactions of health, human rights, inequity and poverty. Kris authored and coauthored several books, book chapters and over sixty peer-reviewed journal articles and numerous reports on health and social change. His most recent achievement was as Editor in Chief of a six-volume International Encyclopedia of Public Health. On a more personal note, Kris was a cherished family member and a valued and loyal friend. He was loved by colleagues and students alike, teaching with humor, empathy, insight and authority. He was always open to learning from others, sharing their culture and encouraging their dreams. He was an extremely generous person, offering financial and personal support whenever possible. Kris was a warm and funny person, remembered by many as a hero for his unique and compassionate insight and his kind and loving spirit. He was always ready to celebrate life with joy by breaking into song, dancing a funny jig (often to his favorite song “Graceland” by Paul Simon), communicating with people in their native tongue, of which he was fluent in many, and insisting you join him in a deep belly laugh, which always began forced and ended in true laughter. Kris’s contribution to his field and humanity in general was immeasurable and he will be sorely missed by loved ones around the globe. Kris spent his final years dealing with Parkinson’s in the company and care of his loving daughter, Annemarie (Anna) and her son Ben in California. He left this life at the age of 80 on August 12th due to COVID-19 related respiratory distress, which he contracted during an outbreak while at a care facility where he was recovering from surgery. He is survived by ex-wife, Martha, and his beloved daughter and grandson of California, as well as by an unofficially adopted daughter, Janet, (and her brother and daughter) in Uganda, whom he has loved and supported since she was a young orphan. He also leaves behind his dearest sister, Brit Randi, his brother-in-law, Grant, his niece, Kristina (and her husband and two children) and a half-brother, Rolv, of Florida. In addition, he leaves behind long-time life partner, Nina, and numerous cousins and extended family in Norway, as well as dear friends around the world.

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