C. Everett Koop died yesterday at the age of 96. Here are nine things you should know about the former surgeon general.

1. In 1981, Dr. Charles Everett Koop—his lifelong nickname was “Chick”, short for “chicken coop”—had never served in public office when President Ronald Reagan appointed him surgeon general of the United States. He served from 1982 to 1989 during the Reagan administration and the early months of the administration of George H.W. Bush. At a congressional hearing in 2007, Koop spoke about political pressure on the surgeon general post. He said Reagan was pressed to fire him every day, but Reagan would not interfere.

2. At the age of 14, Koop operated on rabbits, rats, and stray cats in his basement after his mother had administered anesthesia. By his account, not one of the animals died.

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