Jack C. Westman (copy)

Jack C. Westman

You may have seen the obituary last week delivering the news that Dr. Jack Westman passed away at the age of 91.

It told of his accomplishments through his long career, beginning at the University of Michigan and followed by his many years at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where he became one of the nation's preeminent child psychiatrists.

When I was editor, Dr. Westman and his wife Nancy made many visits to my office, where he extolled his passion for the welfare of children and insisted that society forgets the key to that welfare is the parents.

He'd tell me how important it was for governmental agencies, nonprofits that work with kids and medical professionals to form networks and work together to address the importance of parenthood.

The status of parents ought to be more valued than money, he'd insist, and lamented that only about a fourth of the parents who need help receive training on how to raise and prepare their children so they don't experience behavioral and social problems in years ahead.

Dr. Westman was a prolific writer of Voice of the People letters to us and letters to the editor to the Wisconsin State Journal.

I'll never forget the time he declared that parents ought to organize to give their children a strong voice through them, similar to what the American Association for Retired Persons does for seniors. In that vein, he helped organize and became president of Wisconsin Cares, a nonprofit aimed at advocating for families. One of its main goals was to organize volunteers to administer home support services to parents of newborns.

Through his career, Dr. Westman authored 13 books and received numerous honors, not only for research and contributions to child psychiatry, but for his and Nancy's founding of Project Understanding, a Mississippi-Wisconsin exchange program following the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., and organizing Canyon Scholars, a scholarship program for Tarahumara Indian children in the Copper Canyon of Mexico.

He was one of those shining lights who needs to be remembered for all that he did.

Dave Zweifel is editor emeritus of The Capital Times. dzweifel@madison.com and on Twitter @DaveZweifel

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