Dr. Richard F. Daines, New York State Health Commissioner from 2007 to 2010, died unexpectedly at his familyâ€™s home in Dutchess County, New York on Saturday, February 26th. He was 60.
Dr. Daines, the third of five children, was born to Newel and Jean Daines in Preston, Idaho on February 17th, 1951. He grew up in Logan, Utah, and from an early age was noted for a sharp and expansive intellect. From 1970-1972, Dr. Daines served a full-time mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Bolivia, learning to speak Spanish fluently, and later graduated from Utah State University with a Bachelorâ€™s Degree in History. He married Linda Skidmore, also of Logan, Utah, in 1974 before moving east to attend medical school at Cornell Medical School.
After receving his medical degree in 1978, Dr. Daines completed a residency in internal medicine at New York Hospital and began his career at St. Barnabas Hospital in the Bronx as an internist and Director of the intensive care unit. His career as a physician, medical director, and, later, President and CEO of St. Lukeâ€™s-Roosevelt Hospital in Manhattan, saw him waging a courageous battle against the new urban health challenges of addiction, infectious disease, and obesity.
In 2007, Dr. Daines left private life to become Commissioner of Health for the State of New York, where he served until December, 2010. As Commissioner, Dr. Daines visited every one of the stateâ€™s 62 counties, from metropolitan to rural. He confronted the significant health issues that faced New York, not shying away from the controversial, the difficult, or even the impossible. He faced them all with conviction, intelligence, and courage, knowing some battles he could win and some he could not, but all were worth the fight. In all the pressing issues, Dr. Daines was a voice for reason, bringing a calmness and reassurance to those around him when it was needed the most.
Dr. Daines devoted his life to the health and happiness of New Yorkers. He administered relief and counsel to communities from the South Bronx to the St. Lawrence and beyond.
Dr. Daines was a man of varied interests and pursuits. He reveled in history. His bookshelves overflow with the writings of and about Winston Churchill. As a college student under the tutelage of Leonard J. Arrington, he became a scholar of early Mormon history. This part of his life he referred to as a springtime, for it was then his thirst of knowledge was piqued and his love blossomed for the young and beautiful Linda Skidmore.
Richardâ€™s interests grew with his family. From scouting and baseball to ballet and opera, his family introduced him to new experiences that became his passions. He was an outdoorsman, walking the forested trails of Dutchess County with his dogs close behind. He was a man of spiritual depth, serving with faith and devotion in his local LDS congregation. He had no greater joy than skiing in the mountains of Utah and camping in the rarified air of the Wind River mountain range of Wyoming, often saying â€œthe air is better up there.â€
At his Dutchess County farm, Richard applied his scientific acumen to growing heirloom tomatoes and chili peppers.
Dr. Daines was, above all else, a beloved and loving husband, father and grandfather. He is survived by Linda, his wife of 36 years; his children William, Katherine, and Andrew; his grandson Charles Richard; his parents, Newel and Jean Daines; and his four siblings.
A viewing will take place on Tuesday, March 1st from 6pm to 8pm at Frank E. Campbell Funeral Home, 1076 Madison Avenue, New York, NY. A funeral service will be held on Wednesday, March 2nd at 11am at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 217 East 87th Street, New York, NY. Dr. Daines will be laid to rest in the Logan City Cemetary.
In lieu of flowers, the family kindly requests that contributions be made in his memory to the following charities: Weill Cornell Medical College (www.med.cornell.edu), the Leonard J. Arrington Chair of History at Utah State University (www.usu.edu/giving), or the Boy Scouts of America (www.scouting.org). Condolences may be sent to the family at Allen Mortuaries.