Previous Directors of the Indian Health Service
ERWIN S. RABEAU, M.D. (1920 - 1984)
Assistant Surgeon GeneralDirector Indian Health Service 1966-1969
In 1965, Dr. Erwin S. Rabeau became the third Director of Indian Health Service. “Stu” was a surgeon by profession. He brought a vast amount of knowledge and experience of American Indians and Alaskan Natives to the top management and administration of the Indian Health Service.
He had served in Nome, Barrow, Tanana, and Kotzebue, Alaska hospital for a number of years, before the transfer act in 1955, as staff physician and medical officer in charge, plus a variety of other duties at a remote out post of the Indian Health Service.
From Kotzebue, Alaska he moved to the Alaska Area office (1957-60) in Anchorage, as the Clinical Director of the hospital, and then as the Deputy Area Director. In 1960 he moved to the Bemidji, Minnesota area as Chief Medical Officer and Deputy Area Director. He transferred from Bemidji to Aberdeen, South Dakota in 1962, where he became the Aberdeen Area Director. He remained as the Aberdeen Area Director until 1963 when he was transferred to the Indian Health Service Headquarters office in Silver Spring, Maryland to become the Deputy Director of Indian Health Service under Dr. Wagner. In 1965 he was appointed Director of the Indian Health Service.
Dr. Rabeau had a decided impact upon the management, administration operation and direction of the health care delivery system and program for American Indians and Alaskan Natives.
In 1969 Dr. Rabeau stepped down as Director of the Indian Health Service and moved to Tucson, Arizona to become Director of the Indian Health Service Office of Research and Development. This was a program that he had a great interest in and concern for and one that has had a major impact over the years on the total Indian Health Service health care and delivery system. Dr. Rabeau remained as Director of the Office of Research and Development until his retirement in 1981, after 30 years of service as a Public Health Service Commissioned Corps officer.
Upon retirement in 1981, Dr. Rabeau returned to Alaska where he became Deputy Director and Director of the Alaska State Health Department, where he remained until his untimely death in May 1984.
This biography has not been altered from the time it was last issued by the Indian Health Service.