Director-General

Eulogies delivered at Dr Lee's funeral

Below are the eulogies delivered on behalf of family, colleagues and friends, and the international health community, at the funeral service for Dr LEE Jong-wook, Director-General of WHO. The service took place at the Basilique Notre-Dame in Geneva, Switzerland on 24 May, 2006.


His Excellency RHYU Simin, Minister of Health and Welfare of The Republic of Korea, on behalf of the international health community

I stand here now to pay tribute to this great man on behalf of all the members of the WHO. Shocked and with great sorrow, I bow respectfully before the bereaved family knowing that no words of mine will do for this moment.

Dr Lee understood that his job was not merely about organizations, initiatives or conferences, but about people around the world suffering from sickness and disease.

Dr Lee was a towering figure in the world of health. He was a humble man who knew that he must listen and bear witness before speaking and acting. And listen he did. He listened to Presidents. He listened to children orphaned by the scourge of AIDS. He listened to seasoned experts. He listened to the exhausted workers in the field. He listened to Ministers and Ambassadors, but most of all he listened to his heart.

His door was always open to anyone who wanted to see him and he worked hard with a passionate devotion that few of us possess. His sincere dedication to the sick of the world earned him the profound respect and deep love of all of us.

WHO/Peter Williams
His Excellency RHYU Simin, Minister of Health and Welfare of The Republic of Korea

He wanted change to take place on the ground. His concern for the health of those around the world carried him more than 1 million kilometers, visiting over 60 countries in the short span of 3 years as Director-General. Such great distances traveled were only exceeded by his willingness to walk across the room to hold the hand of a dying child. Throughout his career, his work in the field has helped define and exemplify the very best of the WHO.

He was not afraid to show to the world courageous leadership with his "3 by 5" commitment. His belief in this great goal was a powerful wake-up call to the scope and magnitude of what needs to be done.

Dr Lee has left an indelible legacy on the fights against AIDS, malaria, TB and most recently he led the efforts to avert a human influenza pandemic arising from avian influenza. His life has touched millions, and made them all that much better.

A shining light was unexpectedly extinguished. This is a tragic loss for his family, for the WHO and for the whole world. It seems the greatest tribute we could pay would be to quietly carry forward what he has left behind to save the lives of people suffering from disease.

I have no doubt that God will lovingly greet Dr. Lee into heaven as a man who devoted his whole life to caring compassionately for God's creation.

Thank you.

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