Dr. William Cobb; Board Member, Former President of NAACP

Dr. William Montague Cobb, former president of the National Assn. for the Advancement of Colored People, has died in Washington. He was 86.

Cobb died Tuesday in George Washington University Hospital, where he had been treated for heart problems and pneumonia.

A member of the NAACP board of directors for 30 years, Cobb served as its president from 1976 to 1982.

He worked throughout his lifetime to improve medical care for African-Americans and to integrate hospitals. Cobb also lobbied for improvements in Medicare and Medicaid to provide better health care for the poor and elderly.

Cobb also served as president of the Anthropological Society of Washington from 1949 to 1951; the American Assn. of Physical Anthropologists from 1957 to 1959; the National Medical Assn., the leading organization for black physicians, from 1964 to 1965, and the Washington Society for the History of Medicine from 1971 to 1972.

A native of Washington, Cobb earned his bachelor's degree at Amherst College, his medical degree at Howard University and his Ph.D. at Western Reserve University. He was an amateur violinist and historian and wrote more than 600 scientific papers.

He taught anatomy at Howard University for 45 years, serving as chairman of the department of anatomy from 1947 to 1969. At that time he became Howard's first faculty member to hold the rank of distinguished professor, and in 1973 he took the title professor emeritus.

Cobb is survived by two daughters, Carolyn Cobb Wilkinson of Washington and Amelia Cobb Gray of Silver Spring, Md., and four grandchildren.

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