A great Hero has passed.
When my omniscient mentor and dear friend Dr. Richard Kunin, M.D. passed away on Feb 23rd 2021, I, and many other pioneering integrative medical doctors around the world, felt a loss which can never be sated. I count myself exceedingly fortunate that a medical doctor whose encyclopedic knowledge and astounding brilliance always surpassed anyone in his presence, would befriend me when I was but a young and curious doctor. And I hope, dear reader, that you may, at times in your life, also experience the profound empowerment and encouragement when a great person welcomes you with heart-felt collegiality.
Richard’s life is inspiring in myriad ways, but his conviction of his principles is what I consider most astounding. Having attained the status, early in his career, of being one of California’s most respected and influential doctors, Richard had the courage of his convictions such that, upon learning of a more beneficial manner of caring for patients (orthomolecular medicine), he sacrificed his professional status and willingly became a champion for integrative, nutritional medicine. Today, thanks in great part to Richard’s courage and wisdom, integrative medicine is in the ascendency.
In medicine, the strategy is often “see one, do one, teach one” and Richard affected that in a glorious manner by founding OHMS – the Orthomolecular Health Medicine Society. Here, like-minded medical doctors, whose top priority was to optimize patient outcomes, would share freely and learn how to become better physicians together. He also served for years on the board of America’s oldest and most venerable health care freedom organization -The National Health Federation – before encouraging me to replace him on the board – huge shoes to fill.
Like Moses, Richard led many doctors who honored the edict “Primum non Nocere” out of careers of uncritical reverence for the standard of care (which amounted to suboptimal, albeit lucrative careers) into a more humane career of actually and effectively teaching patients to optimize their health and well-being. Thousands of us, colleagues and patients alike, are all so grateful for his leadership and his inspiring example.
Words fail at this point, but I urge the reader of this strained obituary to take to heart my message that brilliant, life-changing mentors are out there just waiting for you to simply ask their help. Go for it. Be brave and ask them to teach and share with you. Believe me. They are there and you need to ask their help today because otherwise, someday they will die taking with them encyclopedic knowledge which they’d have been happy to share with you. Thank you, Richard for your courage, your convictions and your loving, generous spirit.
The great German scientist and poet, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe,offers a reassuring perspective which is a balm for me when facing such a wrenching loss:
“The thought of death leaves me entirely unmoved; for I hold that the human spirit is something eternal, something not unlike the sun which only seems to set to our mortal eyes while in reality never setting, but the shining on forever.”
Bradford S. Weeks, M.D.