Pediatrician, peace activist Sol Londe dies at 100
LOS ANGELES – Dr. Sol Londe, a pediatrician who helped establish a standard for normal blood pressure levels in children and pioneered research in childhood hypertension, died Thursday of pneumonia at his Los Angeles home, according to his son, Dr. Stephen Londe. He was 100.
Londe was also a founding member of Physicians for Social Responsibility and continued to attend peace rallies when he was in his 90s.
“Dr. Londe was a dedicated pediatrician who was at the forefront of developing the methods we use today to accurately measure blood pressure in children,” said Dr. Thomas Klitzner, professor of pediatrics at UCLA, referring to Londe’s publications, starting in the 1960s. “Since high blood pressure in the pediatric population is a direct consequence of childhood obesity, which has reached epidemic proportions in the United States, Dr. Londe’s pioneering work is as relevant today as it was when he first published it.”
Londe’s passion for children’s health and for the social issues surrounding science and medicine moved his career in several directions at once. He was a full-time pediatrician and peace activist.
As a young man, he opened a private practice and worked as a volunteer professor of pediatrics in his hometown of St. Louis. After he retired and moved to Los Angeles in his 70s, he joined the volunteer faculty at the UCLA medical school.
At about age 80, Londe started working as a doctor at a juvenile hall detention center, where he saw young patients two mornings a week. In his early 90s, his wife encouraged him to retire. He refused to stop working until his medical license expired, at 95.
“Sol’s whole philosophy of medicine was to take care of children from low-income families,” Jeanne Londe said in an interview with the Los Angeles Times this week. He was concerned about diseases poor children develop because of malnutrition and the lack of medical attention, she said. “Kids involved in the penal system were even more compelling to Sol. He wanted to try and keep them from slipping through the cracks.”
Londe met his wife at a march in Washington against nuclear weapons in 1983, when he was a widower. They married the following year. He was 80 and she was 72. The wedding cake was decorated with a peace symbol.
He helped found the Los Angeles chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility in the early 1980s. An international group committed to ending nuclear arms, it won a Nobel Peace Prize in 1985.
Londe served in an Army Air Forces medical unit during World War II and later went into private practice in St. Louis. Some of his earliest published research concerned blood pressure problems in prematurely-born infants.
He married Rose Sanel and they had two children, both of whom became physicians. She died in the 1970s.
When he moved to Los Angeles in 1979, social activism remained a major part of his life.
“For both of us, injustices made our blood boil,” Jeanne Londe said. Together they helped found the National Council of Senior Citizens, which lobbied for the protection of Social Security and affordable health care.
“It’s very important to be interested in something outside yourself,” Sol Londe told the Los Angeles Times in 1993. “You don’t have time to listen to the aches and pains that accompany old age.”
Along with his wife and son, Londe is survived by his daughter, Dr. Helen Londe, and several grandchildren.