Key polio figure will be remembered

Carol Pandak with Bob Keegan during his bike ride across the United States in support of polio eradication

Carol Pandak with Bob Keegan during his bike ride across the United States, which raised $30,000 for polio eradication.

By Carol Pandak, manager of Rotary’s PolioPlus program

Rotary’s strong relationship with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is, in many ways, thanks to Bob Keegan, who died on 16 January at age 59 after battling cancer.

Bob was my “go to” guy and sounding board, even after he retired deputy director of CDC’s Global Immunization Division in 2007. I could ask him any question and know that I would get a straight answer and sound advice. Our professional relationship soon became friendship, which led me and many others to join Bob on an epic bike ride across the United States. His journey helped raise public awareness and $30,000 for polio eradication.

Bob also worked with the CDC Foundation, Rotary, and others to help establish the Polio Eradication Heroes Fund to honor those seriously injured or killed during immunization campaigns and to provide a cash award for their families.

I share the sentiments expressed by Bob’s longtime colleague and friend Dr. Stephen Cochi, special assistant to the director of the Global Immunization Division, who said: “Bob, by his example, taught us all how to be better human beings—through his boundless energy and tempered idealism, his unselfishness, his humanitarian perspective and philanthropy, and his courage. What I loved most about Bob was that you knew where you stood—he didn’t hold anything back, but his approach was always diplomatic, sensitive, and respectful.”

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