Longtime PATH staff member Carib Nelson passes away

December 16, 2007 by PATH

His work, warmth, and gentle nature touched so many lives

In Indonesia, he was known and well loved as Pak Carib.

On December 15, PATH–and the global health community–lost one of our best friends and colleagues when Carib Nelson passed away from a fast-moving cancer. We at PATH feel this loss terribly, and our hearts go out to Carib's wonderful family at this difficult time.

Carib was with PATH 18 years, starting in Seattle as a technical officer, working on product development projects. He managed teams to develop, test, and introduce appropriate technology products, including PATH's Uniject™ device in its earliest days. Later he took an assignment as the field manager of the Healthy Start project on Lombok in Indonesia, where he managed a collaboration with the Ministry of Health to train midwives in village-based child survival interventions. He then was the initial field manager of a study of  Haemophilus influenzae vaccine working with the same people on Lombok. There he was known and well loved by many as Pak Carib.

On his return to Seattle in the late nineties, Carib offered his thoughtful, wise, and good-humored guidance and broad field experience to so many important initiatives at PATH, including some of our most innovative work in improvements to health care waste management and cold-chain systems. As a product design engineer, Carib was responsible for the identification, design, development, and testing of new and creative immunization and safe injection product concepts. He has traveled throughout the world on behalf of PATH, interacting with colleagues in multiple settings and ways. He spent his career studying the problems facing health systems and finding–and successfully advocating for–creative and solid solutions.

Before coming to PATH, Carib, with his wife Sarah, worked as a volunteer in Indonesia, as a technical advisor for a local appropriate technology group, assisting in community development and small-scale industry projects. Earlier, he received his bachelor of science degree in biology and a master of science degree in product design/mechanical engineering, both from Stanford University in Palo Alto, California.

As a result of Carib's long and happy time at PATH and his collaborative approach to his work, he made friends all over the world and won admiration from all whose lives he touched. From the halls of government and international policy bodies, to the smallest villages in the remotest corners of Southeast Asia, Carib's warmth and gentle nature provided welcome relief in places where life is difficult and the challenges are great.

We at PATH were lucky to know Carib and to have worked so closely with him. He will be greatly missed.

Read Carib's obituary in the Seattle Times.

Posted December 16, 2007.