Shortly after midnight on June 6, Dr. Maurice F. Rabb Jr. succumbed to cancer. He died at home surrounded by his loving wife and two sons. He survived one day past his 39th wedding anniversary, a milestone he purposely achieved by sheer willpower and undying love for his wife, partner and muse, Madeline Murphy Rabb. He was 72.
Dr. Maurice F. Rabb Jr. was born in Shelbyville, Ky., on Aug. 7, 1932, to Dr. Maurice F. Rabb Sr., a family practitioner and civil rights activist, and Mrs. Jewel Miller Rabb, a fellow activist and math teacher, of Columbus, Miss., and Louisville, Ky., respectively. At age 14, he and a fellow Black youth represented the region comprising the states of Ohio, Michigan and Kentucky at the Boy Scout World Jamboree in Paris, France. At 15, he traveled across the country alone by train, visiting Los Angeles, Tijuana (Mexico), San Francisco, Seattle and Minneapolis. These trips ushered in a lifelong wanderlust and passion for travel and photography.
At 16, he graduated from Central Colored High School, where his mother was a member of the faculty. He matriculated at the University of Indiana in Bloomington because his home institution, the University of Louisville, remained segregated. After two years, he entered the University of Louisville when it desegregated, and became one of the first African Americans admitted to the College of Arts and Sciences, where he earned a bachelor's degree in biology. Dr. Rabb attended medical school at the University of Louisville School of Medicine, and graduated in 1958. He did his ophthalmology residency at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
At the University of Illinois, Dr. Rabb served as chief resident in 1963. Dr. Rabb was the first African-American resident and chief resident at the institution. In 1964 in Chicago, Dr. Rabb met his wife-to-be, the artist Madeline Wheeler Murphy of Baltimore, Md., daughter of Judge William H. Murphy and Madeline Wheeler Murphy. The two wed in 1966, and their union was blessed with two sons, Maurice III and Christopher Murphy Rabb.