Obituary: John 'Jack' Frederick Kantner, 88, Pioneer in
Family Planning Studies
John Kantner in an undated
By Tim Parsons
School of Public Health
John "Jack" Frederick Kantner, professor emeritus,
died Feb. 3 at the age of 88.
Kantner came to Johns Hopkins in 1968 as a professor in
the School of Public Health's Department of
Population Dynamics, which is now part of the
Population, Family and Reproductive
Health. He served as chair of the department from 1976
During his time at Johns Hopkins, Kantner joined
colleague Melvin Zelnik in conducting in 1971
the first national survey of adolescent fertility and
contraceptive use. "No one had ever studied the
behaviors of young unmarried women before," said Laurie
Schwab Zabin, who was a student of
Kantner's and is now a professor in Population, Family and
Reproductive Health. "The government found
their findings to be so surprising that they funded two
more surveys. Today, this kind of research is
done all the time." Zabin used Kantner and Zelnik's data
for her own initial research.
Zabin added, "Jack was a very supportive and engaging
person who gave a lot of his life to the
support of family planning worldwide."
Kantner's early work was devoted to improving
international family planning and reproductive
health programs, particularly in developing countries.
While working in the field, he aimed to figure
out how to make family planning and reproductive health
programs of the 1950s and 1960s work and
how to encourage health systems to perform better.
Beginning in 1957, he spent many years in
Southeast Asia, first in Indonesia as an adviser from the
University of California, Berkeley, and later
working in Pakistan with the Population Council and in
India with the Ford Foundation and USAID.
While living in Canada in the 1960s, he helped found the
University of Western Ontario's first
Department of Sociology. Kantner, along with colleagues
T.R. Balakrishnan and Jack Allingham,
organized the first fertility and reproductive health
survey ever undertaken in Canada. The study,
conducted in Toronto from 1966 to 1967, resulted in the
publication of Fertility and Family Planning in
a Canadian Metropolis.
Kantner received his bachelor's degree in sociology
from Franklin and Marshall College in 1942
and served in the U.S. Army Medical Corps in Europe during
World War II. He earned his doctorate in
sociology from the University of Michigan in 1953. He began
his career compiling and analyzing
international demographic information from Eastern Europe
and Russia for the U.S. Bureau of the
Census. In addition to Johns Hopkins, Kantner also held
academic appointments at the College of
William and Mary and the University of Western Ontario. He
was president of the Population
Association of America in 1982 and wrote several books on
population issues. He wrote his latest book
with his son Andrew.
Kantner had a lifelong passion for music, according to
his family. He played trumpet during his
college years with a touring jazz band and later, during
World War II, with the U.S. Army Special
Services Band. Upon retiring to Bedford, Penn., in 1986, he
was active in the Bedford Springs Music
Festival, and he served as president of the festival for
Kantner is survived by his wife, the former Jane
Boose; his children, Andrew Kantner, Josie
Kantner Smith, Chris Kantner and his wife, Cynthia Burger,
and Julie Kantner and her husband, David
Claffey; and five grandchildren.
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