In Memoriam: Alvin Winder
By George Cernada, Professor Emeritus
Alvin Winder, retired Professor of Community Health Education, passed away in September at age 88. He joined the SPHHS in the early 1980s after a distinguished career as a professor in both the Psychology and Nursing Departments of UMass Amherst.
Born in New York City, he was a WWII veteran, graduated from the City College of New York, and the University of Chicago, with a Ph.D. in psychology, and later received an MPH from the University of California, Berkeley.
He published numerous books and articles on public health, particularly on strategies to reduce smoking, and various applied psychology topics. He also worked on studies related to the effects of radiation on public health.
Al, as he was affectionately known to his students and fellow faculty, is known to many inside and outside academia as a social activist at the university, community, state and international levels. He helped organize the faculty union, served as a Leverett selectman, lobbied against tobacco at the state level, and, after retirement, continued to work to promote anti-smoking collaboration among East and Southeast Asian countries.
Although he was no stranger to his fellow Chicagoan Saul Alinsky’s tough organizing methods and applied them rigorously to public settings, he also was influenced by Paulo Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed in putting into practice in the classroom the idea that the learner was a co-creator of knowledge. This philosophy, along with his use of non-formal education methods, endeared him to his graduate students.
His long and distinguished career as a teacher, social activist, researcher and clinician gave him considerable insight into multi-disciplinary approaches and he was a keen interdisciplinary researcher, working on national grants on smoking among African American populations, and anti-tobacco and health promotion in Asian countries. He also practiced psychotherapy and worked as clinician in public settings.
His versatility and energy was well-known. He practiced psychotherapy and worked as a clinician in public settings. He was an enthusiastic handball player, often with public health students a third of his age, an ardent horseback rider, a fisherman, golfer and hiker, as well as a writer of poetry and lifelong learner. He continued as Book Review Editor of the International Quarterly of Community Health Education for 30 years until he passed away.
He was predeceased by his first wife and leaves his wife, two sons, two daughters and a stepdaughter as well as four grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.