P&S Journal: Fall 1994, Vol.14, No.3
L. Joseph Butterfield, M.D.
Professor of Pediatrics, University of Colorado
Past Chairman, AAP Perinatal Section Committee
In 1984 I attended the APS/SPR annual meeting in Washington, D.C., armed with a survey question: "What do you think of a stamp in honor of Dr. Apgar?" The first three people I encountered responded to my question with an enormous smile! That settled the survey.
At the 1985 annual meeting of the AAP in San Antonio a resolution was adopted by the Perinatal Section to nominate Dr. Apgar for a stamp. The Executive Board approved the suggestion and a steering committee met in Washington in 1986 to develop a strategy. At least 12 national organizations were represented at the meeting at AAP headquarters in Washington.
One strategy was to seek an audience with Wilbur Cohen, former head of HEW under five presidents and a member of the Citizen's Stamp Advisory Committee (CSAC). I managed to secure an appointment with Professor Cohen following a speech he gave in Dallas in the summer of 1986. He was adamant that we should not use heavy-handed tactics or involve the Congress in lobbying for Dr. Apgar since "each candidate must stand on his or her own merit!" Then he leaned forward and with a twinkle in his voice said, "unless you happen to know the physician that takes care of the PG (Postmaster General)."
For the next several years we "stalked" individuals who personally knew members of the CSAC. For example, Johnny Dee, former basketball coach at Notre Dame and a Denver neighbor, knew "Digger" Phelps, a long-standing member of the CSAC. Johnny and I had watched our kids play baseball for years so it was easy to ask him to write to "Digger." That modus operandi took us to the halls of Congress, governors mansions, pediatricians' offices, Washington law offices, and a former MODBDF volunteer in Cheyenne who knew a Casper TV tycoon who just happened to be chairman of the CSAC at the time. No heavy lobbying-just calls and contacts.
The CSAC works deliberately and in an almost clandestine manner. We never knew what the status of "the stamp" was until late 1990 when the Stamp Management Office in the L'Enfant Plaza responded to my annual call about the stamp for Dr. Apgar by saying "The stamp has been recommended but the year is undetermined." Wow! We had it-but when?
From 1990 to 1993 was a long wait but on Nov. 1, 1993, I met with the CSAC office staff and learned that Dec. 7 was the date of the "rollout" of the 1994 stamp program. Dr. Apgar was on the list!