Tribute to Henry P. David

1923-2009

Photo by Sandy KavalierHenry P. David, psychologist, mentor, and friend to countless colleagues around the world, died December 31, 2009. He was a long-time member of APA, and had worked extensively with the association on domestic and international issues.

The memorial service for Henry David, held at the end of January 2010, was attended by a large number of family, friends and colleagues, many of whom spoke of Henry and what he meant to them. After the service, many remarked on their special relation to Henry, and marvelled that Henry was a special mentor, friend and colleague to so many - young and old, spread in all corners of the world. The following capture some special words about Henry P. David, psychologist, philanthropist, mentor, and friend, whose care and work touched the lives of many millions around the world. An obituary to Henry P. David, written by Donald Freedheim, will appear in a fall edition of the American Psychologist. Ed.


Citation Distinguished Contributions to the International Advancement of Psychology:

In 1992 David was the recipient of the APA award for Distinguished Contributions to the International Advancement of Psychology. The citation for that award captures some of the ways Henry made such a lasting impact on the field:

“At 14 years of age and without his parents, Henry P. David fled Nazi Germany and came to the United States. He interrupted his college studies to serve in the U. S. Army Air Force, where he became a jeep driver for Otto Klineberg, the first recipient of this APA award. Their association was a strong influence on Henry's career path. As founder of the Transnational Family Research Institute, he has developed research and fostered studies on mental health and population issues throughout Europe, Asia, and Latin America. His work is represented in 14 books and over 300 scientific papers that he has edited or co-authored. He has mentored dozens of educators and psychologists around the world who have been inspired by his wisdom and commitment to the improvement of family life. His persistent yet compassionate leadership skills have steered him to the helm of many organizations, including the International Council of Psychologists, the Division on Population and Environmental Psychology, and the APA Committee on International Relations in Psychology. Henry P. David's continuing dedication to the interactions of psychology with mental health and population concerns around the globe represents the finest ideals of our Association.”

Citation APF Gold Medal Award for Life Achievement in Psychology in the Public Interest

In 2001 David was awarded one of the highest awards in psychology, the American Psychological Foundation Gold Metal award.

“For his many leadership roles and international research contributions in the areas of population, women’s issues, and mental health. Described as ‘a brilliant scholar with practical ideas,’1 Henry P. David’s pioneering research on reproductive behavior has had worldwide impact, helping to strengthen women’s rights, improve access to modern methods of fertility regulation, and encourage responsible parenthood. In addition to prolific research contributions, he has facilitated interactions of psychology with mental health and population concerns in the United States and abroad. In doing so, he has bridged disciplines and geographical boundaries, creating lasting global networks of psychologists devoted to using their knowledge and skills in the service of the public interest.”


Tribute from Irina Todorova, PhD, President, European Health Psychology Society

Henry David had a very warm place in his heart for his colleagues in Eastern Europe. He supported our activities and strivings to develop psychology in benefit of the people, as a science and practice that contributes to ameliorating the impact of the transitional period of social change. His own work on psychological aspects of reproductive health in the region, with implications for reproductive, health and human rights, has been an inspiration and example for many. Henry David's belief in me and my colleagues, while grounded in the realities of difficult social and historical circumstances, was a true motivation for many years. His kind, calm and wise stance in our conversations sparked optimism and energy, though never losing sight of the complexities of life and our work in psychology. He so authentically rejoiced in our successes, expressed pride and understanding; and as authentically stood with us in acknowledging the difficulties and injustices. Most importantly, any interaction with Henry was full with richness of experiences, memories and reflections, and made me appreciate the deep meaningfulness of life and work. I will remember his smile, his unwavering support and the knowledge that I can depend on a wise reflection from him at any time, and mainly, the vibrancy that he added to relationships, personal and professional interactions.


Tribute from Ann Marie O’Roark, PhD, ABAP, President International Council of Psychologists

Henry David is admired and remembered by ICP members as the first man to serve as association president. Henry served two years as ICP President, 1967-1969, following a year as President Elect in 1966. ICP was 25 years old when he integrated the top leadership ranks, a historically noteworthy and unique professional innovation. Across the years, other American men, also outstanding psychologists, followed in his footsteps. Over the years, Henry was generous with gentle encouragement and financial contributions in periods of economic downturns for ICP.

In later years, Henry David’s face always lit up when he saw a fellow ICP member, and with his lovely wife Tema at his side he crossed busy streets and crowded social gatherings to give personal greetings and inquire about events in the life of the association and common friends. He epitomized the wise saying of thinking globally and acting locally, and demonstrated with grace the ICP cornerstone value for inclusiveness and person-to-person connections. When ICP meets in Chicago this summer, we will share our sadness at losing him and strive to enable ICP to live up to his trademark signature “Be Well.”


Tribute from Maan A. Bari Qasem Saleh, Associate Professor, Department of Behavioral Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, University of Aden

Henry David - An International Friend and Godfather

Maan A. Bari, Henry David, Merry Bullock, APA ConventionI got to know Dr. Henry David almost a decade ago when he came to Yemen as participant and co-organizer of the international symposium on Behavioral Sciences, and Millennium Challenge in March 2000. I greeted and met him at the airport of Sana’a, with his wife Tema and with Dr. Eggen Prodi and his wife.

I was fascinated with these personalities coming from the overseas, and braving the fatigue of travel of more than 20 flight hours, and this at an already mature age. They expressed a great dedication, commitment, and love for the behavioral sciences, and their desire to share this passion with their colleagues around the world was admirable. We participated in symposium sessions, ate together, and went out in tourist visits. He got to know members of my family, my daughters and my mother, who, until his last message kept a special place in his heart. He sent frequent wishes for the safety and well-being of my family and I equally reciprocated these feelings.

Since our initial meeting years ago, we had not lost contact, despite the age difference between us of more than forty years. I had participated with him in the publication of a book on the outcome of the Symposium papers specifically aimed at reproductive health and family planning in Yemen. This book was released jointly in December 2000, and was an experience that embodied the development and improvement in the convergence of our efforts, as those of our colleagues in achieving global professional standards in our specialization.

In the process of manuscript revision, Dr. Henry was flexible in understanding the local needs for privacy in a Yemeni context, and at the same time, demonstrated detailed and professional standards. From him, I learned patience, accuracy, honesty, and loyalty to friends. He also taught me the importance of the promotion of science, and its lofty values of helping humanity. Henry David was a man for challenge and an excellent representative and ambassador of psychology. He struggled to build communication and make up for what soured politics between people regardless of their gender, religion, identity, or their country's policies. This was a challenge during a time of war and conflict, despite the end of the Cold War and the emergence of a new war on terrorism that exacerbated the complexity of societies and religious of the world.

However, Dr. Henry David remained a special case, and showed a distinct and personal form of high humanitarianism, as he was able to see the world from a sensitive and transparent eye that captured the essence of others and their goodness. His greatest lesson was to show that humanity could grow and develop through friendship, understanding, and gratitude.

The feelings of friendship and intimate appreciation of where they do not allow you only to obedience, admiration and fascination to Dr. Henry.

Despite all the fear, anxiety, hesitation and uncertainty that has spread in the world in the last years, Dr. Henry David gave me inspiration to accept the invitation to visit the United States of America in March of 2001. During that ten-day visit I attended a workshop on reproductive health in Washington and was most privileged to visit the American Psychological Association specially arranged by and with Dr. Henry. Since 1998, I’d dreamed of attending the APA convention and this was achieved in 2007, where I participated in the APA’s 115th Conference in San Francisco under the auspices of a Fulbright Scholarship at the State University of Arizona.

On the eve of the new year, Dr. Henry silently and softly passed away in such as manner as the one he used to live his life, discreetly and modestly. I will keep his messages of support in my email as a memory of our friendship. The last message I received from him was on December 30th, the day before his farewell. He was full of fatherly concern about the current situation in Yemen, but still radiated hope and sent wishes of peace.

Grief has gripped my heart for the grandest and best friend I knew at a time in my professional career when it was most appreciated. I will keep him in my memory as an immortal and irreplaceable loss.