Santa Paula Times

Artemus J. Strong, M.D., Class of 1920

August 10, 2001
Santa Paula High School
By B. J. Harding, President, SPUHS Alumni Association Biography #149 (Have you submitted yours?)Born in Santa Paula on the site of the present day Masonic Temple to Dr. J. C. Strong and his wife, Ethel Johnson Strong, Artemus (or “Art” as he was known by the community) had a sister, Gwendolyn, Class of 1924.At SPUHS Art was an outstanding student, Student Body president, captain of the Cadet Corps, and he was especially interested in sports. He was on the basketball team with Howard Sheldon (‘20), Clifford Maltby (‘20) and Milton Teague (‘21).However, his expertise was baseball. El Solano tells of Joe Archer (‘21) playing second base with Art Strong at shortstop, “forming a keystone combination that proved hard to beat.” Other members of this winning team were Noah and Nolan Buckner (‘21), Philetus “Fleet” Hall (‘20), and Ralph Bennett (‘21).Following graduation Art headed for Stanford University, and then to Stanford Medical School. He did his residency at San Francisco General Hospital which, at that time, was the teaching hospital for Stanford Medical.When finished in San Francisco, Dr. J. C. sent his son to Vienna, Austria, which was known as one of the finest centers in the world for surgical training. Art returned from Vienna in 1932, and Dr. J. C. handed Art the keys to a brand new office which he had built for his son. Many will remember the office being on the corner of South 8th and Yale Streets. As a result of his extra surgical training, Art soon became well known in medical circles, not just in the county but in all the western states.Artemus Strong practiced at this location in Santa Paula for over 43 years. He delivered over 2,200 babies, and his son recalls “...Dad coming home early one morning, exhausted, as he had just delivered five babies to five different mothers at five different locations the night before.” This was back in the days when doctors still made house calls.Artemus was one of the founders of Santa Paula Memorial Hospital. It was through his dedicated work and the generosity of some of his very good friends that the much needed hospital got off the ground. It is up to those of us who are still in the community to continue to support this facility for all our use. Art served the hospital as chief of staff for many years, in addition to keeping his office practice.
Art took as his bride Louise Harpham from Ohio. They had two children, Camilla (‘51) and William (‘58).When Art was able to get away from his work, he packed into the High Sierras for hunting and fishing. He was a wonderful skier, and an excellent golfer and tennis player. For decades there was a standing invitation-only tennis game at Milt Teague’s home every Saturday afternoon. The competition was fierce at these games, and Tom Riley (‘27) lost a tooth one day when he didn’t get out of the way of an overhead smash.Those who remember Art will recall that his hands were unbelievably strong, yet gentle. Art spoke of other surgeons in terms of their hands, their hand-eye coordination, and their speed. If a surgeon was fast and deft, he was good.Art lived exactly where he wanted to live, in Santa Paula. He practiced a profession that he was good at and he loved. He had an avocation, ranching (the Strongs lived on a 130-acre ranch east of Santa Paula) that he loved, and he had the perfect wife for him.Art and Louise traveled to every corner of the world while Louise introduced him to literature and art. Unfortunately, we lost this very special alumnus, friend, doctor, father and citizen of Santa Paula on April 16, 1978, a great loss to our community.