Memorial services for Dr. Jonathan M. Mann '69, former professor at the Harvard School of Public Health (SPH) and victim in the September 2 Swissair Flight 111 crash over Nova Scotia, were held yesterday at the SPH's Kresge Cafeteria.
The ceremony was a somber celebration for someone whom speakers called a "visionary" with an unparalleled capacity for bringing together researchers and activists to fight against the global pandemic of AIDS and a personal capacity to touch the lives of all he encountered.
The service began with a video montage chronicling Mann's professional accomplishments.
The montage clips dated back to the late 1980s--a period marked by the beginning of the international recognition of the developing AIDS crisis--and depicted Mann as one of the first members of the global health community to perceive the severity of the daunting virus.
The montage was followed by a dozen guest speakers, most of whom were colleagues who said they had developed meaningful friendships in addition to professional relationships with Mann during his employment at the World Health Organization (WHO) from 1986 to 1990 and at the SPH from 1990 to 1997.
"Mann was a forceful and eloquent proponent of health and human rights," said Halfdan T. Mahler, who worked with Mann at the WHO.
Speakers said Mann would be remembered at Harvard as an inspirational instructor who strove to effect social change by touching the lives of his students.
Debrework Zewdie, a researcher who worked with Mann on the first confirmed case of AIDS in Ethiopia, said Mann continued his work when "the committed were few and skeptics were plenty."
Friends said that through his work Mann became a voice of concern, alerting the international community to the growing AIDS pandemic and offering solutions through education, cultivation and protection of human rights and world solidarity.
Organizers of the event passed out pamphlets with excerpts of some of Mann's speeches to further show Mann's commitment to social justice. "I can see my life as pre-AIDS and since AIDS. What a journey! It seems to me...that the essential character of this journey is toward that personal discovery which is the real basis of wider tolerance, understanding and respect for others," Mann said in a 1996 speech.
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