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Civil Rights Activist Dr. Quentin Young Dies At 92


One of the country's most passionate advocates for health care reform has died. Dr. Quentin Young was a civil rights activist in Chicago and a personal physician to city's first black mayor, to a governor and to Martin Luther King. David Schaper has this remembrance.

DAVID SCHAPER, BYLINE: The care of his patients always came first to Quentin Young, buy fighting for universal access to care was his passion, says one of Young's patients, former Illinois Governor Pat Quinn.

PAT QUINN: I would have to say most of my visits to his office, we occasionally talked about medical matters, but mostly it was how to make sure everybody was in and nobody was left out when it came to decent health care.

SCHAPER: Dr. Quentin Young grew up on Chicago's south side. And after serving in the Army during World War II, he earned his medical degree at Northwestern. He worked to desegregate Chicago hospitals in the 1950s and marched for civil rights in the '60s.

MICHAEL YOUNG: We met so many people. He took his children everywhere.

SCHAPER: Quentin's son, Michael Young...

M. YOUNG: I met Fannie Lou Hamer. I knew Stokely Carmichael as a child. I met Mahalia Jackson - was one of his patients.

SCHAPER: Another patient was Martin Luther King when he moved to Chicago in 1966, as Dr. Young recalled in this 2008 interview with member station WBEZ.


QUENTIN YOUNG: I had to take several upper respiratory infections for which they called me and expand a 10 of 15 minute house call to a three-hour visit at the feet of the master. And I did it every time, shamelessly.

SCHAPER: Young served as chairman of medicine at Cook Country Hospital in the 1970s. He served as president of the American Public Health Association, and he was personal physician to Chicago Mayor Harold Washington and author Studs Terkel, among others. In recent years, he became a critic of fellow Hyde Park resident President Barack Obama for his Affordable Care Act because, to him, it's not comprehensive enough. Again, Michael Young.

M. YOUNG: He was a very passionate advocate for his causes, and he had a very rare gift to inspire people.

SCHAPER: Quentin Young died Monday of natural causes at the age of 92. David Schaper, NPR News, Chicago. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

David Schaper is a correspondent on NPR's National Desk, based in Chicago, primarily covering transportation and infrastructure, as well as breaking news in Chicago and the Midwest.