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.