Dr. Simon C. Brumbaugh, Jr.
May 14, 1924 - August 21, 2013
Dr. Simon Brumbaugh -- "Si" to his legions of friends and colleagues -- embodied health care in Lemon Grove and San Diego County in an epic career that spanned more than six decades.
"Brumbaugh Babies," those delivered or attended to, number in the thousands. As a general practitioner, he tended the medical needs of countless patients of all ages--a veritable alumni group with long, fond memories of the man who symbolized the term "family doctor."
The doctor was "in" until he retired in 2012, age 88, from San Diego's Military Entrance Processing Station, where he provided physicals for military recruits, noting with characteristic humor that he'd still be working if it weren't for the hole in his head. But the latter was actually serious business. He had undergone brain surgery in 2012 to remove a cancerous brain tumor that had struck earlier that year.
With his colleague, Dr. Wesley Herbert, Dr. Brumbaugh founded Lemon Grove Medical Group in 1952 and built Lemon Grove's first and only medical building in 1957 at 3240 Main Street, a heartbeat away from "The Big Lemon." The Medical Group could be reached day or night at 463-9201 and included 13 doctors (10 GPs, one surgeon, one ophthalmologist, and one ObGyn), two radiologists and administrative staff.
Today the building lives on as Lemon Grove's City Hall and Sheriff's Substation, renumbered as 3232 Main Street.
Born in Windber, PA into a family that traced its roots back to the colonial and American Revolutionary War period, Dr. Brumbaugh followed in the footsteps of his father, Dr. Simon C. Brumbaugh, Sr.
After serving as a quartermaster in the U.S. Navy, 1943 - 1946, and participating in several South Pacific campaigns, including Iwo Jima, Dr. Brumbaugh earned his B.S. from Juniata College in 1947 and his medical degree from Thomas Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia in 1950. He also joined the Jefferson ROTC and became a first lieutenant in the U.S. Army.
At Jefferson in 1950, he met a beautiful, spirited nursing student, Mary Louise Moore (Mary Lou), whom he married and took to Lemon Grove. There they lived for the next 40 years, raising seven daughters and giving generously of their time to service clubs, the local school district, the historic First Congregational Church of Christ of Lemon Grove, the annual Christmas Seal Campaign and more.
The Lemon Grove Review, the town's indispensable weekly newspaper for 50 years, frequently featured both Brumbaughs in stories and photographs, detailing their civic activities on behalf of children and youth, as well as Si's work as a 61-year member of Kiwanis.
But it was Dr. Brumbaugh's contributions to medicine that advanced science, best practices for doctors, and innovations in administration and care in Family Medicine. He was a Charter Diplomate of the American Board of Family Practice, a Charter Fellow of the American Academy of Family Physicians, and a 20-year associate clinical professor of Medicine at UCSD School of Medicine. He was an officer of the San Diego County Medical Society, Grossmont Hospital's chief of staff in 1964-65, and a delegate, district counselor and committee chair for the California Medical Association and the American Medical Association.
He served on the board of directors and executive committee of the Academy of Family Physicians, was president of the San Diego chapter and president of the California Academy in 1979. He took on national positions, including regional advisor to the American Academy of Family Physicians, board member of the Foundation for Medical Care and the Audio Digest Foundation, and president of the Doctor's Service Board.
The Brumbaughs built a retirement home in Spring Valley in 1993 to be closer to Si's new office, Scripps Clinic (Rancho San Diego), which had purchased the Lemon Grove Medical Group.
Si and Mary Lou were twin halves of a powerful, successful marriage. While devoted to medicine, they made time for arts and culture, world travel to every continent except Antarctica, sports (Chargers season ticket holders for five decades, SDSU football and Del Mar horse racing fans) and, above all, their children and grandchildren of whom they were so proud.
Friends everywhere were stunned when, in 2012, Si and Mary Lou contracted brain tumors within a month of each other. Mary Lou died in her sleep at home on Feb. 21, 2013, leaving her beloved Si to soldier on.
Si is survived by his sister, Elizabeth Perry, 101, of Pittsburgh and was predeceased by his sister, Esther Smith, of Lemon Grove. He leaves his seven daughters, Barbara McCravey (Ralph) of Los Angeles, Carol Brown (David) of San Diego, Jo Ann Zawacki (Rick) of La Mesa, Mary Robertson (Art) of Encinitas, Patricia Brumbaugh (John Carter) of Denver, CO, Susan Keidel (Mark) of Redlands and Tamara Brumbaugh (Larry Dickman) of Pleasanton, along with fourteen grandchildren; Sean McCravey, Gracie Lee Brown, Zoe Zawacki, Anna, Emily and Amy Robertson, Raymond and Alana Carter and William, Charles, Andrew, Phillip and Elizabeth Keidel, and Mathew Dickman, numerous nieces and nephews, and a brother-in-law, William P. Moore.
The family will hold a joint Celebration of Life for Si and Mary Lou on Nov. 30, 2013 at 2 p.m. at the Joan B. Kroc Center Theater, 6611 University Avenue, San Diego. In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to Lemon Grove Community Church, 3122 Main Street, Lemon Grove, CA 91945.
Oh, Si. Medicinae Doctor, gratias tibi ago.
Si and Mary Lou -- Arcades ambo. Sic itur ad astra.