More than one doctor

Letter to the editor

Posted: Monday, February 03, 2003

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I write to express support for the preservation of older buildings in Juneau (i.e., what is now called the JAMHI building on the corner of North Franklin and Second St.), but also to comment on the history of pioneer physicians in Juneau. Rayda Renshaw's letter to the editor in Sunday's paper written as a tribute to the building is also a tribute to Dr. Joseph Rude, who practiced medicine in that building for many years. However, it is not really true that Dr. Rude was the only doctor in Juneau for many years. We were a larger and more cosmopolitan community than that, and Dr. Rude's history and those of the Juneau doctors who were his contemporaries make for an interesting story.

"Gastineau Channel Memories 1880-1959," a book about local families published in 2001 by the Pioneer Book Committee, includes a history of the Rude family written by Don Rude, Joe Rude's son. The Rude family lived in Ketchikan and Petersburg before moving to Juneau in 1940. According to the family history, Dr. Rude first practiced medicine here with Dr. Dawes, then formed the Doctor's Clinic in 1944 with John Clements. Later Joe Riederer joined that clinic. And the Doctor's Clinic was indeed located in the building Ms. Renshaw describes.

My father, Dr. William Whitehead, came to Juneau in 1935 to practice medicine. (The Whitehead family history is also included in the Pioneers' book.) He took over the practice of the late Dr. W.J.B. McAuliffe. In 1936 my father formed the Juneau Clinic partnership with Drs. W.W. Council, C.C. Carter and W.P. Blanton. Later other doctors joined that partnership.

Dr. Rude, who was a good doctor, a community leader and an inspiration to many, did deliver many babies, but probably no more than my father, whose specialty was obstetrics.

That I can write this response so quickly is a tribute to the hard-working committee that put together the Pioneers' book. The information I wanted to include about the Rude family was right at my fingertips. The group, under the able leadership of Marie Darlin, is now organizing a second book about pioneer residents to be published next year, the 100th anniversary of Juneau High School.

Virginia Whitehead Breeze


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