Deceased September 8, 2012
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John Rawson Sibley died on Sunday, June 24, 2012, at home with family and friends.
He was born on Oct. 7, 1926, in Maplewood, N.J., the son of Rev. H. Norman Sibley and Margaret Rawson Sibley.
John attended Amherst College from 1943 to 1948, interrupted by service in the U.S. Army of Occupation in Japan.
He and Jean Lee Butler were married in 1948. They moved to Chicago, where John graduated from Northwestern University School of Medicine and completed his internship at Wesley Memorial Hospital. In 1953, they bought an old farm in Etna, N.H., and John began the first of two residencies at Mary Hitchcock Memorial Hospital (which later became Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center).
In 1960, John, Jean and their four children went to Korea under the auspices of the United Presbyterian Church, where John served as a general surgeon and interim superintendent of Dongsan Hospital in Taegu and an associated leprosarium, specializing in reconstructive surgery.
This experience crystalized his conviction that a new approach to rural medical care was needed, and in 1969, he became the founding director of the first community health project in Korea, on Koje Island. He concluded his work with this project in 1977, for which he received the Korean Order of Civil Mer
After completing a master’s degree at the Harvard School of Public Health in 1979, John served as medical director of Ban Vinai Refugee Camp in Thailand, was an advisor on rural health to the Korean government and an associate professor in the Department of Preventative Medicine of Yonsei University, in Seoul. He then taught basic surgery in Jumla, Nepal, and served as associate health care director of United Mission to Nepal. After returning to Etna in 1986, he was an adjunct professor of community health at Dartmouth Medical School and a staff member in the Department of Cardiology at DHMC from 1987 to 1993. His last overseas work was in 1998, as a volunteer with Church World Service for hurricane relief in Honduras.
John is survived by Jean, his wife and partner for 64 years, his sister Elizabeth Barnes, brother Donald Sibley ’51, four children and their spouses (Don and Priscilla Sibley, Annie and Robert O’Brien, Taz Sibley and Michaela D’Angelo, and Meg and Ed O’Leary), extended family (Hyun Hee and Young Chul Shin and Ben Han), seven grandchildren (Perry O’Brien,Gillian Sibley, Michael O’Leary, Yunhee O’Brien Kenough, Sean D’Angelo, Jonathan O’Leary and Shannon O’Leary Keeler) and four great-grandchildren.
According to his deeply-felt wishes, John’s brain has been donated to the Department of Neurology at DHMC for study of Primary Progressive Aphasia, which had deprived him of the ability to process speech for the last several years, and his body has been donated for educational use.
John’s life will be celebrated in a memorial service on July 21, 2012, at 10 a.m., at the Church of Christ at Dartmouth College, where John was a member for more than 50 years and served on several boards.
In lieu of flowers, those who wish are invited to make donations to the Church of Christ at Dartmouth College (40 College Street, Hanover, NH 03755) or Church World Service (P.O. Box 968, Elkhart, IN 46515).