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CHS Graduate earns Presidential Medal of Freedom

July 2, 2012

Dr. William Foege poses for a photo with the Colville Valley behind him. In 2010, Dr. Foege made a visit to Colville to meet with teacher Scott Price and his students. “I have an affinity for this area,” said Dr. Foege. “It was very good to me growing up.” Photo by Tom Paulson.

A lot of fuss is made of Dr. William Foege’s height. After all, the man is six-foot-seven-inches tall, so it’s safe to say he gets noticed in a crowded room.
But for a gentleman of such stature, both physically and professionally, he takes it with a grain of salt. That’s a laudable and venerated quality in a man who was recently awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his work in helping to eradicate smallpox in the late 1970s.
Based in Atlanta, but raised in Chewelah and Colville, Dr. Foege traveled to the White House in Washington D.C. to receive his award with 13 other recipients.
The Presidential Medal of Freedom recognizes people who made important contributions to the arts, science, diplomacy and other pursuits. Those honored at the ceremony ranged from Bob Dylan to former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and author Toni Morrison.
“These are truly important people, who have made contributions in their fields that have influenced the whole of society in one way or another,” Dr. Foege said in a phone interview last Friday. “So to be there on the stage with them was incredibly humbling.”
Born March 12, 1936 in Decorah, Iowa, Dr. Foege’s family moved to Chewelah when he was nine-years-old. He began working at Rowan’s Drug Store in Chewelah when he was 13 and applied at Kohlstedt Pharmacy when his family moved to Colville his sophomore year of high school.
*Read the full story in this week's S-E!

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