Remote Area Medical founder Stan Brock dies at RAM headquarters

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Stan Brock, the founder of Remote Area Medical, a major non-profit organization that provides mobile medical clinics, has passed away.

Officials with the organization said that Brock passed away on Wednesday afternoon at RAM headquarters in Rockford at the age of 82.

His office released the following statement, "It is with great sadness that Remote Area Medical announces the passing of our Founder and President, Stan Brock. Without Mr. Brock, RAM would not have been able to prevent pain and alleviate suffering for so many people."

Brock was a television star, who began co-hosting Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom in 1968. In 1985 he founded Remote Area Medical to provide health care to those who need it. The organization holds clinics across the U.S., treating thousands for free. He served, without compensation, as RAM’s Founder and President.

"It's a great arrangement between those that need the help and those that are willing to give the help," Brock said. "And it's totally free at no cost to the government, no cost to the taxpayer."

The idea came to Brock in 1953, following a terrible horse-related injury while living among the Wapishana Indians. The nearest medical care was 26 days away. That's when he vowed to bring care closer to people who really needed it.

In 2017, Brock received the Lions Humanitarian Award. The award, presented by the Lions Club, was given to Brock at the 100th Lion Club Convention on July 4 along with a $250,000 grant to RAM.

RAM relies on 120,000 volunteers, and has treated close to 1 million people, providing $120 million in free medical care.

"We have no problem at all getting volunteers to do this if they are allowed to cross state lines," Brock said.

Brock even partnered with lawmakers like Congressman Jimmy Duncan (R-Tenn.) to pass the Tennessee Volunteer Medical Services Act of 1995 allowing health professionals with out-of-state licenses to cross state lines and provide free care.

Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett released a statement following Brock's passing:

"Stan Brock was a dear friend, and I was honored that he once shared Christmas dinner with my family. I am thankful for that memory and am saddened by his passing. Watching him as a kid on TV, he was larger than life, and I was star-struck the first time I met him. But Stan was more than a celebrity. He started Remote Area Medical and dedicated his life to serving others. East Tennessee and communities across the globe, are better off because of him.”

Officials with RAM promised Wednesday that Brock's mission would continue, "While Mr. Brock’s death is a great loss to the organization, RAM will continue championing his legacy and caring for those in need. Mr. Brock built a strong organization led by a dedicated 12-member Board of Directors, 34 staff members, and tens of thousands of volunteers and donors. Together, they will continue to fulfill the mission set by Mr. Brock so many years ago in the jungle of Guyana."

The next RAM clinic is scheduled for September 8 and September 9 at South Fentress Elementary School, 5018 Wilder Road, Grimsley, TN 38565. Patients can begin parking at 12 a.m. midnight on Saturday, September 8. Ticket distribution begins at 3 a.m., and patients will be seen in chronological order according to their ticket number when clinic doors open at 6 a.m. The same process will repeat on Sunday, September 9.

Mr. Brock was recognized as a CNN Hero in 2012. In 2017, he was honored by the Lions Club International Foundation with the Lions International Humanitarian Award, joining other recipients like President Jimmy Carter and Mother Teresa.

His work has been featured by CBS 60 Minutes, NBC Nightline, New York Times, Washington Post, TIME Magazine, The Guardian, and The Times of London.

Stan Brock was born in Preston, Lancashire, England. He eventually went on to manage the world’s largest cattle ranch, a 4,000-square mile combination of rainforest and savannah in British Guiana.