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Allen Carrol Crocker

Dr. Crocker passed away October 23, 2011.  Born in Boston, he graduated from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1944 with a degree in biology and from Harvard Medical School in 1948.  The son of a research chemist, his first choice of career was entomology, but he went into medicine and specifically developmental pediatrics because he said it combined scientific medicine and social need.

We knew him as a tireless advocate for the prevention of disability, and particularly its secondary and tertiary effects on function. He worked in the late 1980s and early 1990s to develop a comprehensive schema of indicators for evaluating the effects of prevention efforts in childhood disability.  In addition to being a scientist, he was also known as a poet—or at least for quoting poetry in speeches and journal articles.

He served the field and families as pediatrician at the Boston Children's Hospital for 60 years, including serving for 26 years as Director of the Developmental Evaluation Center and for 10 years as Program Director of the Institute for Community Inclusion. He served on the faculty of Harvard Medical School and Harvard School of Public Health. He was particularly devoted to persons with Down syndrome. 

In 1961, he proposed the classification of Niemann-Pick disease (sometimes called Crocker’s syndrome or Crocker-Farber syndrome) into 4 subgroups, A to D. Author of numerous articles, chapters, and books, his best known books were Developmental Behavioral Pediatrics, first published in 1983 and is currently in its fourth edition, and Medical Care for Children and Adults with Developmental Disabilities, currently in its second edition.

Over the course of his long career, he was recognized with numerous accolades. A Fellow of AAIDD, he was awarded the AAIDD Leadership Award in 1992.  In 1994, the Massachusetts Chapter of the Down Syndrome Congress established the C. Crocker Award of Excellence in recognition of his many years of nurturing individuals with Down syndrome and their families throughout their life’s journey. A Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), he was honored by the AAP in 2001 with the C. Anderson Aldrich Award for his work in child health (an award previously bestowed upon Benjamin Spock, Terry Brazelton, Anna Freud, and Gunnar Dybwad) and in 2007 with the Arnold J. Capute Award.

Click here to see MDSC video tribute to Dr. Crocker.


Click here to make a donation to AAIDD in his memory.