ALBANY – Robert P. Whalen, M.D., 84, died on December 24 at Community Hospice Inn at St. Peter’s Hospital following a long illness. He was born in Newburgh, NY, April 28, 1925, son of Mary (Barclay) and William R. Whalen.
After moving to Ravena, NY, he attended Cathedral Academy in Albany and Mount St. Mary’s College in Emmitsburg, MD. He enlisted in the Army in World War II and served in the Army Medical Corps overseas and at the U.S. Public Health Service Hospital in Boston. He graduated from Albany Medical College, class of 1951, where he served his internship and residency, and he graduated from the Harvard School of Public Health.
He was appointed Medical Director of the Albany County Department of Public Welfare, which began a long career of public service. He was subsequently appointed Albany County Commissioner of Public Welfare Department, and then as Albany County Commissioner of Health. He was recruited to the New York State Department of Health as Director of Community Health; he subsequently served in numerous positions overseeing public health, hospitals, nursing homes, and health care reimbursement, including serving as the Department’s Deputy Commissioner. Dr. Whalen was appointed by Governor Hugh L. Carey to serve as New York State Commissioner of Health from 1975-1979, where he enacted significant reforms for long-term care, health care reimbursement, and environmental health. He subsequently served as Chairman of the New York State Health Planning Commission. He also served as a board member of the National Library of Medicine and an editor of the Index Medicus, as President of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officers, as a board member of Albany Medical Center, and as Professor of Community Health at Albany Medical College. He was a member of the Albany County Medical Society, the Delta Omega Society of Public Health, the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society, and a number of other public health, civic, church, and community organizations.
Following his retirement from state service, he served as Interim President of Albany Medical Center, and Executive Vice President of Hospital Underwriter’s Mutual Insurance Company. He was an avid reader, observer of local, state, and national politics and health policy, was a noted toastmaster and raconteur, and enjoyed telling and hearing a good joke, or leading a sing-along, usually featuring Irish songs. He was a devoted member of the choir at Avila Retirement Community.
Survivors include his wife, Anna Frangella Whalen; four sons, Dennis (Alice), Coeymans, NY, Brian (Annmarie), Carlisle, PA, Robert (Victoria), Weston, MA, and Timothy, Vancouver, Washington; a brother, William R. Whalen, Hudson, NY; and grandchildren, Emily, Philip, Daria, Meghan, Gus, Robert III, Matthew, Nicholas, and Sydney. He was predeceased by his first wife, Josephine Anne (Martino); his sister, Nancy (Phillips); and his son, Kevin.
A Mass of Resurrection will be celebrated at Mater Christi Church (formerly St. Catherine of Siena Church), Hurst Ave., Albany, NY on Wednesday, December 30 at 9:30 a.m. Relatives and friends are invited. The family would like to thank the dedicated and caring staff of St. Peter’s Hospital, St. Peter’s Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, and the Community Hospice. Those who wish may make donations in his memory to The Community Hospice of Albany County, 445 New Karner Rd., Albany, NY 12205. To leave a message of condolence for the family, or view or print a prayer card, please visit www.HansFuneralHome.com.
My most deepest sympathy to you!!!
Mary and Ben DeLeo
ANN, i CANNOT EVEN REMEMBER WHEN BEN AND I MET YOU AND DOC ON OUR FIRST CRUUISE EVER . iT WAS A GREAT TRIP TO BERMUDA AND YOU AND DOC WERE SO MUCH FUN. HE WAS SO WITTY AND THE TWO OF YOU WERE ALWAYS LAUGHING AND SO FRIENDLY. i AM NOT SURE HOW YOU BOTH BECAME MY EMAIL FRIENDS FOR SO LONG, BUT I AM GLAD WE DID MAKE THATCONNECTION.WE ARE SO SORRY TO HEAR OF DOC’S PASSING, BUT CAN’T HELP THINK OF HOW WARMLY HE MUST HAVE GREETED BY THE CHRIST CHILD ON CHRISTMAS EVE AND HOW HEAVEN IS REJOICING IN HAVING HIM HOME.
Edward and Aris DeNigris
Aside from all the honors and accomplishments given to Bob, we were fortunate to have known him simply as “Bob”…a wonderful source of humorous material that kept us all laughing and wondering “just how he could contain all those memories…and the delivery… in that deep, sonorous voice that filled the services at Mass here at Avila. We are not likely to see the likes of such a gifted and talented man again, and to bear witness to the devotion and loyalty of his wife, Anna, who tirelessly and unendingly sought to give him comfort. We just hope that the angels leading Bob into heaven’s gates will not lose their way because of their convulsed laughter as he shares a story with them. We will miss your presence, Bob, and especially at choir practice. God bless you!
It’s been so long since we’ve seen each other, but I have great memories of growing up together in Ravena. I hope all is well with you and your family.
You should be very proud of your father. He accomplished so much during his life-a succesful family and career.
Dennis, I remember your father well. I remember that he became Commissioner after Dr. Ingraham retired. He was such a nice man and he always had a cheery hello for all in the corridors of 84 Holland or the elevator in the Tower. As Commissioners go, he was probably the last of his kind. You and your family have my sincere condolences; I’m sure your fond memories will sustain you through this difficult time.
Earl & Heid & Abby Waldron
Dear Ann, I will never forget meeting you and Bob on our cruise way back in the early 90’s! Bob was so very funny and we had so many good times after that cruise. I will always remember all the kind things you both did for us. I will always cherrish the memories of all our special dinners together and all the laughs!! Bob had such a way about him for telling stories that we could never forget him!! We feel that we have been so blessed to have known you and Bob! God Bless!
Glenn E. Haughie MD MPH
I worked for Bob during the years of the Carey administration when “Love Canal”, and nursing home and hospital closings were the issues of the day. He had a wonderful perspective on these issues, best expressed one time when he commented on the proposed closing of some “greasy spoon” restaurants on South Pearl Street.
He argued where will the greasy spoon people eat. What he meant, of course, was where would those least fortunate get some bread.
Bob, I also remember your steadfastness on the death of your son and your first wife. I shared the experience of losing a son; fortunately, I still have my first love with me. Rest, my friend. Glenn
Jeff and Lisa Parks
To the Whalen Family,
Our thoughts and prayers are with you in this great loss.
I was sorry to hear about Dr. Whalen. I went to school with Bob at Ravena and remember meeting Dr. Whalen on numerous occassions at his house. He always had a kind word and was very nice.
As my career has expanded and I took a job at the State Health Department, I have had the opportunity to see first hand Dr. Whalen’s influences on the department and then Dennis’ influences as well.
Dr. Whalen did a tremendous amount of good for his community and the state overall. His work has been missed and now he will be missed even more.
My condelences to the family, especially Bob and Dennis.
Jean B. Longleway
We are going to miss Bob very much and his strong sense of humor.
Mark H. Van Guysling
I wish to express my condolences to Dennis Whalen and the rest of his family in the loss of his father. I was privileged to experience Dr. Whalen’s professional leadership of the NYS Dept. of Health and personally enjoyed his humor and gentle demeanor. He will be missed.
ralph and carol schimmel
Carol and I send our heartfelt sympathies to the Whalen familyon the loss of Dr. whalen. His contributions to the community, state ,nation and family were indeed significant and as he leaves this world you should be comforted knowing he leaves having made an impact and a better place for us all to live. By now he has meet his maker and the words job well done faithfull servant will surely be said. May God bless all the Whalen family
Dear Dennis & Family, although I never had the pleasure of meeting your father, he has always been held in high regard and thought of fondly whenever his name is mentioned in public health discussions.
Dennis, I hope are doing well. Please acceptance my sincere condolences on your father’s passing. He and your entire family are in our prayers.
To Dennis and the Whalen Family,
I’m so sorry to hear of your loss. Your father touched many people. I hope you can find peace with each other during this time.
Erika Whalen Westbay
Bob was undoubtedly a great and unique man. Brother, son, husband, father, friend…and Uncle. I will be certain to share my and others’ stories and memories with my daughter about her Great Great Uncle and his family. So much love, so much laughter. Wishing him and all who knew and loved him peace.
Bobby and Tricia Wieczorek
Robert and Family,
Please know that you are all in our thoughts and prayers.
To Dennis and the Whalen family–
Your father played an important role in the Health Department for so many years, and I can recall reading the Hospital Memoranda with his name upon them routinely. Knowing that others recognize the loss your family now has should provide some solace at this very difficult time.
Jerry and Eileen Cassidy
We were saddened to hear of Bob’s passing. I had the privelege of working with Bob and we much enjoyed our friendship with you and Bob. He was a real gentleman who gave many years of devoted service to the State of New York.