Fernando was born in Guatemala City in 1930 to Ernesto and Marta Viteri. His father was the founder of a very successful law firm. His mother, who, on her own, was an accomplished house designer, opened a shelter with her husband for street children, many of whom went on to become professionals with university degrees. In this environment, Fernando’s commitment to service was born. Upon graduating from Medical School, he married his wife Adelina. They became the proud parents of four children and five grandchildren.
He was easily moved by the plight of the less fortunate. This compassion and caring ultimately guided him to devote his life to medicine. He worked intensely at INCAP, collaborating in the development of INCAPARINA whose aim was to provide a simple and affordable solution to treat hunger and malnutrition especially in children. In 2008, one of the highest recognitions he received was having the “Institute of Pediatric Development and Research – IDIP” name the Children’s Hospital in La Plata, Argentina after him.
Under the aegis of the inimitable Nevin Scrimshaw, Fernando threw himself into the compelling world of medical research, ultimately leading to a Ph.D. in Physiology. This was a natural progression given that he graduated from high school at the age of fifteen. He obtained his M.D. from the University of San Carlos in Guatemala. He studied at the University of Michigan, Harvard University, and the University of Cincinnati where he earned a Ph.D.
A few of the highlights of his work include:
- 1977 Elected member of the Academy of Sciences of Guatemala
- 1997 Received the first Kellogg Prize for Latin American Research in
- 2003 Elected Fellow of the American Society of Nutritional Sciences
- 2007 Received the Decoration "Orden de Pedro de San Jose de
Bethancourt," the highest honor for public service given by the
Minister of Health of Guatemala
- 2008 Naming of the Institute of Development and Pediatric Research
as the Professor, Dr. Fernando E. Viteri Institute
- 2011 Honored speaker at the 100th anniversary of the Argentinean
- Published 255 scientific papers in English and 70 in Spanish
As a result of his studies in the US and the outstanding people he was privileged to work with, Fernando developed an abiding admiration and affection for this country which drew him to become a citizen.
Fernando truly loved his work and the people who came on this journey with him. He often said that eating and sleeping were interruptions. His calling took him around the world, exposing him to fascinating cultures and traditions which always left indelible marks.
Fernando injected energy and a great sense of fun into everything he did. He was a devout Catholic who found joy in all aspects of his faith. He was instrumental in the founding of schools for boys and girls as well as ICEF (The Institute for the Education of the Family) and was the first, and until the end of his life, President of AED (Association for Educational Development).
He and his wife of sixty years, both being ardent devotees of music, from the classical to the tango, founded the Associations for Chamber Music and the Musical Society of Antigua in Guatemala. His second love was the cello, and he aptly described himself as a frustrated cellist.
Fernando excelled in sports, or anything he set his mind to. He was a champion golfer and swimmer, still doing backflips into the pool up to a few years ago. He played tennis, sailed and loved to ride motorcycles. He also attempted bullfighting and crocodile hunting, but sanity ultimately prevailed to the considerable relief of all who loved him.
With his natural élan and exuberant sense of humor, his passion for new experiences at home and abroad allowed him to make life-long friends of all ages and backgrounds the world over. He found the good in everyone he met regardless of their education, race, creed, or social position. Everyone merited dignity in his book.
He will be missed dearly by his family, friends, and colleagues.
GOD BLESS HIM
MAY HE REST IN PEACE AND
FOREVER LIVE IN OUR HEARTS AND MEMORIES