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date: 27 May 2020

Rock, John Charleslocked

(24 March 1890–04 December 1984)
  • James W. Reed


Rock, John Charles (24 March 1890–04 December 1984), physician and advocate of planned parenthood, was born in Marlborough, Massachusetts, the son of Frank Sylvester Rock, a businessman, and Ann Jane Murphy. He and his twin sister benefited from the amenities of an upwardly mobile Irish Catholic household, where rugged older brothers were taught to respect John’s interests in sewing, music, and theater, as well as his piety as a daily communicant at the Immaculate Conception Church. In 1906 he left home to attend the High School of Commerce in Boston. After graduation in 1909, he worked for the United Fruit Company on a banana plantation in Guatemala, where he was moved by the plight of the poor and was dismissed after nine months for his lack of enthusiasm. Another job as a cashier for an engineering firm in Rhode Island confirmed that he lacked an aptitude for business. In search of a vocation, he entered Harvard College; lettered in track; performed in Hasty Pudding, the theatrical society; and tried to revive Newman Club, the Catholic students’ organization. He graduated in three years with the class of 1915, received his M.D. from Harvard Medical School in 1918, and spent World War I as a resident in surgery at Massachusetts General Hospital. He concluded his medical education with residencies in obstetrics at Boston Lying-In Hospital and in gynecology at the Free Hospital for Women. After he began private practice in 1921, Rock quickly became prominent in one of the world’s most distinguished medical communities. In 1925 he married Anna Thorndike of Boston, a mathematics major from Bryn Mawr; they had five children....

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