Harald Kristian Heggenhougen - age: 80
(April 24, 1940 to August 12, 2020
Always with us.
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 4 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 14.
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 Behavioural 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 60 peer reviewed journal articles and numerous reports on health and social change. His most recent achievement was as Editor in Chief of a 6 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' 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 Benard (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.
Kris was a true renaissance man: an academic, an actor, a philanthropist. With all of his degrees and accomplishments, the ones he would often say he was most proud of were the houses he helped build in Maine in his 20's and his sheep shearing certificate from Columbia University. He was humble and jolly and sensitive, being moved to tears during classical music concerts, dropping in on long time friends unannounced for an impromptu African music dance party, and showering people with compliments and gifts from his many travels.
Even as an academic in an unrelated field, he would often start class with a poem, reminding his students that life is primarily about expanding our humanity and improving our ability to understand, connect with and care for each other. One of his favorite one liners was: The wounded oyster heals itself with pearl (author unknown). Let us take the pain of his passing and turn it into a pearl of love and compassion that we offer to the world and each other in his honor.
Rest in peace
Kris/Pops/Grandpa/Harald Kristian/Bro/Onkel/Prof. Heggenhougen