Susan Black MD

1942 - 2022

HARPSWELL - Dr. Susan Black of Harpswell died Sept. 5, 2022. She was 80. She passed surrounded by loved ones, without pain, comfortable and ready, to “The Lark Ascending” by Vaughan Williams.

The daughter of Ukrainian Jews who emigrated to the US during the Bolshevik Revolution, she is survived by her sons John and Dr. Todd Gorman, her daughter Jody Murray of Bowdoinham, and her seven grandchildren, all of whom video chatted with her during her last moments. She will be cremated in her mother’s Ukrainian wedding dress this week.

She grew up in Longmeadow.

Mass., and attended the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and Wayne State Medical School in Detroit, specializing in emergency medicine. She was the first female emergency room chief in the USA at Detroit General Hospital.

When she returned to Massachusetts in 1973 she transitioned to family medicine.

She would come to run the biggest primary care practice in Massachusetts, to serve as the first female EVP and Board Member of the American Academy of Family Physicians, and to be the first woman to receive the Lifetime Humanitarian Achievement Award from the American Medical Association.

She was a fierce advocate of women’s rights, death with dignity, justice for victims of sexual abuse, and maternal and child health.

She taught family medicine at Harvard and Tufts Schools of Medicine, and she ran methadone clinics in Detroit and Lowell, Mass.

With her motto “service before self”, her greatest love was humanitarian relief. She was among the first wave of medical personnel into Chernobyl. She ran refugee camps in Macedonia during the Bosnia War. She served in relief camps in Haiti following its devastating earthquake.

She waged a tireless vendetta against human suffering in the world until her body failed her.

Her idea of retirement was to serve as Chief Medical Officer of Nkosi’s Haven, South Africa’s biggest AIDS orphanage, for six years. Her last act was raising funds for Village Health Works of Burundi for a water system and an ambulance for the maternal and child hospital she helped build in Kirungu.

Dr. Black touched the lives of many thousands. She was a Valkyrie of medicine and human service until her last breath.

There will be a private ceremony for family Saturday, and a public celebration of her life in May 2023.

In lieu of flowers, donations in her honor may be made to: Nkosi’s Haven ( and Village Health Works (https://www.