Bahai News - Dr. Peter Boddy, 52; brought health care to poor
Dr. Peter Boddy, 52; brought health care to poor
Dr. Peter Boddy believed in practicing medicine where it was needed most.
In San Diego, that was at the Logan Heights Family Health Center, where he
helped found a preventive medicine department and pioneer AIDS education
in the Hispanic community.
In Latin America, it was in remote villages with high rates of infant and
maternal mortality and low levels of health care.
Dr. Boddy, who had helped establish a public health program in Nicaragua
during the last 3 1/2 years, was visiting his parents in Poway when he
suffered an aneurysm Dec. 22.
He underwent surgery Christmas Day and died Jan. 2 at Palomar Medical
Center in Escondido. He was 52.
"Peter was planning on staying in Nicaragua at least another four years,"
his mother, Marie, said. "His goal was to help Indian populations in
As a public health specialist and educator, Dr. Boddy worked over the
years in countries such as Mozambique, Ecuador, Argentina, Chile, Peru,
Brazil, Honduras and Egypt. His work in AIDS education took him to Hawaii,
Arizona and New Mexico.
In recent years, Dr. Boddy had been employed by the Boston-based
Management Systems for Health and worked on contracts funded by the
U.S. Agency for International Development.
While in Nicaragua, he was in charge of a staff of 34, including
physicians, nurses and other health professionals.
"I don't believe I have ever worked with a person who approached his
work with such a positive yet selfless attitude," said Kip Eckroad, a
colleague of Dr. Boddy's in Nicaragua.
Born in Chelsea, Mass., Dr. Boddy moved with his family to San Diego at
age 3. He attended San Diego area elementary and junior high schools
before moving with his family to Denver and, eventually, Carmichael,
where he graduated from La Sierra High School.
From the time he was a child, his goal was to become a doctor. He took
premedicine courses at the University of California Davis and earned
bachelor's degrees in anthropology and psychology.
"Being of the Bahai faith, Peter wanted to serve people
wherever he could," said his father, Gregory. "He was told that he
could do more if he went into public health, where he could serve
thousands of people."
Dr. Boddy was on San Andres island in the Caribbean, setting up a
business school, when he was drafted into the Army during the Vietnam
Assigned to Da Nang, he served as a laboratory technician in a field
After 19 months of active duty, Dr. Boddy settled in Peru, where he
faced the daunting challenge of studying for a medical degree in Spanish.
With little background in the language, he picked it up quickly through
the help of a tutor and completed his studies in Lima and Arequipa.
"He became an excellent speaker, writer and reader of Spanish," said
his wife, Patricia, a former San Diegan.
In 1985, Dr. Boddy returned to his San Diego area roots to study for
a master's degree in public health at San Diego State University. While
living in Ramona for four years, he worked at the Logan Heights Family
As a first step in designing an AIDS education program tailored for
minorities, Dr. Boddy coordinated a survey of 476 patients at the center
Of those surveyed by Dr. Boddy, about half mistakenly believed that
AIDS could be transmitted through food and water or by touching or
being near an infected person.
Dr. Boddy returned to Latin America in late 1989, working in such
aspects of public health as management, training, and the design and
evaluation of social and economic development programs.
In 1995, he made a nine-day pilgrimage to Haifa, Israel, the world
center of the Bahai faith.
Dr. Boddy was elected a member of the Bahai faith's
chief national administrative body in three countries, his family said.
Survivors include his wife of 27 years, Patricia; his parents, Marie
and Gregory Boddy of Poway; sons, Louis of Peru and William of Richland,
Wash.; and a brother, Kim of Seattle.
Memorial services were Jan. 6 at El Camino Memorial Park.
©Copyright 2000, San Diego Union-Tribune
Page last updated/revised 090200
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