When I met Jack Geiger in 1987, he was already legendary. One of the founders of Physicians for Social Responsibility and a co-author—along with Vic Sidel, Bernard Lown, and others—of a series of groundbreaking articles about the medical consequences of nuclear war published by the New England Journal of Medicine in 1962, he had just finished his term as PSR’s president when I joined the staff as communications director. I had no sooner arrived in Washington when my new boss, Jane Wales, sent me back to Boston to slow down, if not outright stop, a plan that Jack was developing with Vic and another board member, Jennifer Leaning, to start a new PSR journal. Much to Jane’s chagrin, I returned to Washington persuaded that the journal was a great idea. Much more important for me, I had met the three people who would be my mentors and, not infrequently, my most relentless taskmasters for many years to come.
One didn’t have to spend more than a few minutes in Jack’s company to realize that he was nearly always the keenest, wittiest, most honest person in the room. He was famous at PSR board meetings for taking good ideas and making them better in the process of endorsing them, and eviscerating bad ideas with irony-laden criticisms that brooked no rebuttal.