NHLBI’s Hewitt Mourned
Keith Hewitt, former head of the information services section at the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, died of natural causes at his home in Sao Jose do Calcado, Brazil. He was 80 years old.
Hewitt began his federal career as a Peace Corps volunteer in Brazil after graduating from the University of Wisconsin in 1964. He met and married his wife Ketta in Brazil. Upon returning to the U.S., he was named chief of the Education Branch in the Peace Corps/Action Office of Volunteer Placement.
He then worked with the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism for several years, where he directed youth programs. He organized the first National Conference on Alcohol and Youth at Notre Dame University. With students and faculty/staff from colleges around the U.S., the conference was the first to identify and evaluate programs designed to reduce alcohol abuse among college students. The program manual he wrote based on conference deliberations, Beer Is a Four-Letter Word, was used on college campuses for several years.
In 1985, he joined NHLBI, where he initiated extensive collaborations with state health departments. His groundwork resulted in annual conferences with state health department officials responsible for cardiovascular risk reduction. Hewitt worked closely with the members of NHLBI’s National High Blood Pressure Education Program, National Cholesterol Education Program and National Asthma Education Program to develop risk-reduction education programs. After leaving NHLBI, he continued to work with NIH, helping to establish NICHD’s National Maternal and Child Health Education program.
Hewitt’s colleagues found that working with him was plain fun. Whether planning a national conference or coordinating community outreach strategies, he infused energy and purpose into what others may have seen as an impossible project schedule, driven perhaps by his rigorous training for the marathons he ran in the U.S. and abroad. Over the years, he worked with hundreds of people at NIH and state health departments and, remarkably, he kept in touch with most of them. His instincts were the perfect fit for his role of promoting and diffusing NIH science: welcome friends, build coalitions, grow the network, improve public health.
Hewitt is survived by his wife Ketta and sons Frederico and Erik who live in Brazil, and his daughter Yedda, who lives in Virginia.