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Ruth J Roemer, JD, Professor Emeritus of the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) School of Public Health, Department of Health Services, died on 1 August 2005, aged 89 of cardiac failure. For over five decades she was a tireless advocate for the advancement of local, national and global health conditions and is considered a modern icon of public health. A staunch political liberal and a lifelong fighter for social justice, she was beloved by generations of students and colleagues.
Roemer’s unique background as a lawyer in a field dominated by physicians made her an influential advocate and a pioneer in the nascent field of public health law. “She was a giant. She really recognized before many others the untapped potential for changes in laws and regulations to improve and protect public health,” said Dr Jonathan Fielding, a UCLA professor and director of public health for Los Angeles County.
A graduate of Cornell Law School in 1939, she worked as a labour lawyer in the 1940s and 1950s. She had majored in English at Cornell University and had planned to teach, but changed her mind after touring …