CATHOLIC PHYSICIANS' GUILD OF CHICAGO MEMORIAL
Dr. Gregory White, 82, founding member of the Catholic Physicians' Guild of Chicago, American College of Home Obstetrics, and La Leche League International died Monday, June 16th, 2003. He will be remembered as a man of integrity, intellect, wisdom, compassion and deep spirituality.
A religious man, God and his family were the inspiration in his life. He had an intense and abiding affection for the Church and served as president of the Catholic Physicians' Guild of Chicago and the West Suburban Serra Club, an organization that encourages men to join the priesthood. A member of Illinois Right to Life, National Commission for Human Rights, Junipero Serro Club International, International Association of Parents & Professionals for Safe Alternatives to Childbirth, and the Family Life League, he worked to affirm the principles of life in everything that he did.
Born in Chicago, he grew up in Oak Park and graduated Fenwick High School. He attended Loyola University and graduated from the Stritch School of Medicine at Loyola University. He married Mary Elizabeth Kerwin, a girl that he met at church, and went off to World War II to work on a hospital ship.
Upon his return, he completed a residency at Loretto Hospital, where he later became president of the medical staff. He then went into general practice in Franklin Park where he served the community for over 50 years.
With the help of Dr. Grantley Dick-Read's 1933 book on natural childbirth, Childbirth Without Fear, Dr. White established a practice where mothers could go who wanted to experience natural childbirth. Dr. White shocked his wife's obstetrician by insisting on being in the delivery room, and by backing his wife's demand she not be sedated. The birth went fine, and she had no trouble nursing. In contrast, when Mary gave birth to their first of 11 children she was given anesthetic during the delivery and found breast-feeding difficult in her unsteady and exhausted state. She recalls: "The nurse in the hospital said, 'It's all right, we'll just give him a bottle.' "
At a time when women in America were being discouraged from breast feeding, Dr. White suggested that his wife and her friends form a support group for mothers who wanted to buck the trend in America and breast-feed their babies.
"Throughout his career he was unique and recognized there was a pretty big void out there for women. He was very active in promoting causes such as natural childbirth and family issues."
"I thought they would be a nice, little, local group," Dr. White once said.
So did his wife and her friends--until Reader's Digest wrote about them. Then, letters from around the country poured in from mothers wanting to know how to kick the bottle habit.
The group couldn't keep up with all the letter-writing, so the women printed some papers addressing commonly asked questions. In 1956, they formed La Leche League, which in 1964 added the word "International" to its title. Today, the group, based in Schaumburg, provides information in 23 languages through branches in 63 countries, sponsoring 3,000 mother-to-mother breast-feeding meetings a month.
Statistics kept by a major manufacturer of infant formula show that, in 1965, 28.1 percent of women began breast-feeding while in the hospital after giving birth. By 2001, that figure was 69.5 percent.
In addition to his wife, Dr. White is survived by three sons, all physicians, Joseph, William and Michael; seven daughters, Mary Catherine Thornton, Anne White, Mary Regina Stirton, Mary Dooley, Clare Daly, Maureen Smillie and Elizabeth Dillon; 54 grandchildren and 17 great-grandchildren.
Dr. White, 82, died Monday, June 16th, 2003, in his River Forest home from complications of leukemia. Services were at St. Luke's, River Forest, with burial at Calvary Cemetery in Evanston.
The Catholic Physicians' Guild of Chicago
The Chicago branch of the Catholic Medical Association
Serving the Archdiocese of Chicago, Illinois.
All Catholic physicians, dentists, and medical students are welcome.
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