Gerrit W. H. Schepers. Photograph by Edward Gockler, Saranac Laboratory, 1954. Gerrit W. H. Schepers, 2011. © PIER GAGNÉ (Radio-Canada) 2011. Born: c. 1915, South Africa

Died: September 6, 2011, age 97

Married: Phyllis Marie du Toit, who died in 1964; his second wife Andree Campbell died in 2005.

Children: Rosemary, Emil and Robert

An intern at the Saranac Laboratory in 1949, Gerrit W. H. Schepers revealed damning information about the effect of asbestos mining on workers' health. See "Deadly Secret" by Lorraine Mallinder in Canada's History, April-May 2011, pages 32-38. In 1954, he was named director of the Saranac Laboratory.

In 1995, Dr. Schepers published an article in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine, Chronology of Asbestos Cancer Discoveries: Experimental Studies of the Saranac Laboratory. In the article, Dr. Schepers defends the work of Dr. Leroy Upson Gardner.

Dr. Schepers was interviewed in 2011 by the Canadian Broadcasting Company for a story on the Asbestos Industry that will be aired in the fall of 2011. The CBC also visited the Saranac Laboratory for the story. 2011 photo of Dr. Schepers courtesy of Pier Gagné (Radio-Canada).

Adirondack Daily Enterprise, April 21, 1955

Dr. Schepers became director of the Saranac Laboratory in April a year ago. Mr. Steenken has been director of the Trudeau-Saranac Laboratory since 1947.

Dr. Schepers came to Saranac Lake from Johannesburg, South Africa, with an international reputation for his work in pulmonary diseases. He has published more than 30 scientific papers and three books. He is also an experienced anthropologist and neurologist.

Born in DeWets Dorp, Orange Free State, Dr. Schepers attended the Universities of Witwatersrand, Pretoria and South Africa.

From 1934-1938 Dr. Schepers was a part-time demonstrator at the Medical School Johannesburg, and full-time lecturer there from 1939-1944. He was administrative and research medical officer of the Johannesburg Municipal Benefit Society from 1941-1942 and professor of anatomy and head of the Department of Physiology, and Foundation Member of the Medical Faculty of Pretoria from 1942-1943. He has been a member of the Silicosis Medical Bureau, Union Department of Mines in Johannesburg from 1944-1948 as well as a member of the Miner's Tuberculosis Bureau. In 1949 and 1950 he traveled extensively in the United States, Canada and Europe as Commonwealth Fellow for British Empire, studying industrial medicine.

In 1952 he was named chairman of the pulmonary disability committee of the Miner's Tuberculosis Bureau. Earlier this year Schepers was awarded the Queen's Coronation Medal in recognition of his service in the field of pulmonary disease disability.

Dr. and Mrs. Schepers have three children, Rosemary, Emil and Robert.

See also: International Ban Asbestos Secretariat - The Passing of a Great Man


2011-09-06 21:47:49   RIP (September 6, 2011) - Gerrit W. H. Schepers —