THE RICHARD KOPLOW ENDOWED FELLOWSHIP
Richard “Dick” Koplow was a tireless advocate for improvements in primary care who believed firmly in the idea of giving back to society, and who brought others to that path by his example.
“Like Albert Schweitzer, my father had a Reverence for each person as an individual,” says his oldest daughter, Stacey. “He would know what a person would need, but he never pushed—he always quietly guided people, and then he would stand aside and let people do it on their own. He stood aside so that people could learn from him. He always respected the path you chose, and was always listening to and encouraging our dreams—but would never let us forget that dreams took hard work.”
Koplow’s wife, Florence, met him when she was 21 and he was 23. They married two years later.
“He was the only boy I ever dated who told me, early in our courtship, that, ‘I feel its very important to leave the world a better place than when I was here,’” Florence says. “That was Dick’s guiding principle. It spoke to me, because I remember examining at that time in my life the fact that we have only one life—how do you ‘spend it’ the best way you can? I knew he was the only one for me when I heard him say that line.”
Koplow was true to that principle throughout his life. He co-founded the Technion Institute of Management (TIM), Israel’s leading executive education program. As a non-profit organization, TIM is fully dedicated to transmitting a multi-dimensional integrated approach based on cross-cultural leadership, best practices management, collaborative team management, action learning, benchmarking, real-life project problem solving, and more.
“He wouldn’t give up on things,” Florence says of Koplow. “He was asked by the American Society of Technion to start a business school, and he couldn’t say no. He put together and helped to found an Institute of Management at Technion. It is now in its tenth year, but it took him almost 10 years to make it work. You see, he had the patience that was needed to work in academia, and I was so happy that he was able to see the first class that was ever held at the Institute. The thing was, if he hadn’t taken on this responsibility, then no one would have had the patience to ride over the ‘boulders.’” TIM is such a major contribution to Israel and to society.”
“He helped so many people, especially women re-entering the workforce,” Stacey says.
“He would hire people who had promise and could do a job, not those with a fancy resumes. Actually, you didn’t have to have a resume!” Florence remembers. “You just needed to prove that you could do the work and then do it and do it well. He gave people jobs and made them managers, people who would never have had that opportunity anywhere else. He believed in you. He made a difference in so many different ways—he had a generosity of spirit, a gift to guide others around him, and he was a great mentor.”
When Koplow passed away in 2000, the extent to which his life had impacted those of others was made clear to one of his granddaughters, Ana. “I never realized how many lives he touched,” Ana says. “Over 700 people were at his funeral and I remember, even though I was only 11 or 12, being shocked. This was 700 people beyond our family!”
Though Koplow was selfless—“He never really thought of himself, but of others,” Stacey says—he always made time for his family. “I remember on his last visit, even though he was in pain and it hurt to sit for too long, there he was with [his granddaughter] Morad, sitting for three hours in this small children’s table and chairs, putting together these tiny models that Morad wanted him to,” Stacey remembers. “He was so patient, even in pain.”
Koplow is remembered as a man whose dedication to bettering the lives of others inspired all who knew him.
“In a sense, what the Fellows are doing will continue that legacy,” Stacey says. “The Fellows will give as he would have liked to. They will be the ones to carry on.”
Harvard Medical School’s (HMS) first endowed professorship dedicated to primary care is the Richard and Florence Koplow-James Tullis Professor of General Medicine and Primary Care. Richard Koplow’s legacy also lives on through The Richard Koplow Endowed Fellowship, which supports a U.S. Schweitzer Fellow each year who is working to impact health outcomes in medically underserved communities.