Now in glory: Douglas Huber, 1943-2023, public health expert and mission activist in Diocese of Massachusetts

Dr. Douglas Huber, long active in global mission in the Diocese of Massachusetts, died peacefully at home in Newton, Mass., on Nov. 7, following a short illness.

Douglas served on the Jubilee Global Mission Commission of the diocese and worked on several Global Mission Summits that the commission organized.  He worked in the Episcopal Church’s world mission effort, serving as an adviser to the Council of Anglican Provinces in Africa.  At St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Cambridge he was active in the centennial pilgrimage to the Bernard Mizeki Festival in Zimbabwe.  He attended the 2019 Global Mission Conference that GEMN held in the Dominican Republic.

“Douglas was a world-minded person who devoted his expertise in public health to the welfare of people in many countries,” said GEMN executive director Titus Presler, former rector of St. Peter’s.  “He was a deeply committed Christian who delighted in how his work brought him into community with Christians around the world. He strove to engage church communities with the health crises of our era. We will miss him.”

Douglas was born in 1943 in Elgin, Illinois, to the late Sylvia (Stambazze) and Harry Huber. He was raised in Tombstone, Arizona and was the valedictorian of the Tombstone High School class of 1961. He played football, basketball and baseball, as well as the baritone and trombone in the school band.

Douglas pursued undergraduate studies at the University of Arizona, earned his MD at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and completed his internship and residency at the University of Oklahoma’s Health Sciences Center. Douglas discovered his love for “the anonymous gift of public health” in the Epidemic Intelligence Service at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, and earned a Master of Science in Medical Demography at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

Douglas enjoyed five decades of rewarding work in epidemiology and international public health, working in more than 40 countries to improve health at the population level. He had a particular passion for reproductive and maternal health and designed and led the introduction of multiple contraceptive innovations. While the impact of this work is impossible to measure and contributions are too many to list, Douglas was particularly proud of his leadership of the Emergency Contraception Consortium, which now serves five billion people in 96 countries, as well as his founding role in the Postabortion Care Consortium, whose model was adopted globally. Douglas was instrumental in the introduction and adoption of the vasectomy technique now preferred worldwide. He also designed and directed the Matlab community-based contraceptive project, which was adopted as the national program of Bangladesh.

Douglas taught at Johns Hopkins University and SUNY Brooklyn, and authored or co-authored more than 90 publications and presentations. Active at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Cambridge, Douglas advocated for the overlap of faith and health. He volunteered his expertise as HIV/AIDS Advisor for the Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa and developed several family health initiatives via multi-faith, international networks.

Douglas served as a member of the Steering Council of Faith to Action since its inception and as the Advisor for Reproductive Health for Christian Connections for International Health. He was a Fellow of the American College of Physicians and the American College of Preventive Medicine, and received many professional awards and commendations.  These include Colorado School of Medicine’s Silver and Gold Award for Excellence in Humanitarianism, Citizenship and Professionalism; the first Christian International Health Champion Award from Christian Connections for International Health; and the Lifetime Achievement Award in International Health from the American Public Health Association. A resident of the Boston area since 1992, Douglas also lived and worked in Washington, D.C., Bangladesh, Baltimore, New York City and Afghanistan. Douglas and his wife, Sallie Craig (Tuton) who is also a public health expert, celebrated their 50th anniversary in 2022.

Douglas will be remembered for his intellect, diplomacy, thoughtfulness, patience, humor and remarkable ability to weave together different perspectives for the good of humanity. A service to celebrate Douglas’s life will be held at Saint Peter’s Church in Cambridge, on Saturday, Dec. 9. Canon Jane Butterfield, former co-rector at St. Peter’s and former mission personnel officer for the Episcopal Church, has been asked to preach on the occasion.

Posted in Diocese of Massachusetts, Now in glory, Obituaries, Public Health and tagged , , .