Staunton pediatrician retires after 38 years – Staunton News Leader
STAUNTON Ã¢Â€Â“ On July 7, George Sproul retired after 38 years as a doctor of pediatrics.
Sproul was born in Richmond where his father was doing his fellowship in gynecological surgery. Sproul was six months old when the family moved to Staunton, his fatherÃ¢Â€Â™s hometown.
His father, A. Erskine Sproul, was the first practicing gynecologist in Augusta County.
Ã¢Â€ÂœExcept for the years I was away at college and medical school, Staunton has been home to me and my family,Ã¢Â€Â he said.
Sproul graduated from Robert E. Lee High School. It was during his high school years that he met his future wife, Sharon.
Ã¢Â€ÂœIt was after we had been dating for a short time that I realized Sharon lived on Sproul Lane which was named after my grandfather. It was a coincidence that gave us great pleasure,Ã¢Â€Â he said.
After high school, Sproul attended Davidson College in Davidson, N.C., where he graduated with a major in biology. He and Sharon married during his senior year. She went on to support him through his medical schooling.
Ã¢Â€ÂœWhen I went away to college, I was pretty sure I didnÃ¢Â€Â™t want to be a doctor. I knew I wanted to go into some field of science. It was sometime in my junior year that I decided to go to medical school thinking I might do medical research,Ã¢Â€Â he said.
Sproul began to question whether research was the path he should follow. He wasnÃ¢Â€Â™t convinced the attention to fine detail required in research would be to his liking. It was at this time that he decided to become a pediatrician. He graduated from the University of Virginia with a medical degree. He then completed a three year pediatric residency.
Ã¢Â€ÂœI moved to Rochester, N.Y where I completed my first year of residency at the University of Rochester. IÃ¢Â€Â™d never lived north of the Mason-Dixon Line and thought it would broaden my perspective. I knew I would return to Virginia at some point because of the strong family ties,Ã¢Â€Â he said.
He returned to the University of Virginia for his final two years of residency.
Sproul completed his last day of residency on June 25, 1977. On July 7 of that year, along with fellow graduate, Dr. Bill Silkstone, he opened his first practice on West Beverly Street.
Ã¢Â€ÂœWhen we opened the practice there were only two other pediatricians in Staunton,Ã¢Â€Â he said.
In 1991, Sproul moved from Beverly Street to Commerce Square where his office remained until 2011. There were four doctors on board when the practice merged with Waynesboro Pediatrics to form Valley Pediatric Group. When he retired he was practicing at Valley Pediatric Group in Verona.
In his early years of practice, Sproul was responsible for a lot more than just seeing patients in his office. He regularly visited patients who were hospitalized. For many years it was required that a pediatrician be on hand at the hospital when a child was delivered by caesarean section. He also wore a pager which literally meant being on call 24/7. According to Sproul, there have been tremendous advances in pediatric care over his 40 year career.
Ã¢Â€ÂœToday the doctors not only treat sick children and adolescents, they also do annual immunization, routine healthcare and counseling parents on raising children. A very strong bond develops between doctors, patients and parents. Children sometimes stay with the same pediatrician from birth to college age,Ã¢Â€Â he said.
Ã¢Â€ÂœI think the most rewarding part of my work was watching a child grow from infant to young adult. I also made it a priority to help a small child feel less apprehensive about having a stranger poke and prod with scary looking instruments. Visiting a doctor for the first time, even the first several times, can be quite a traumatic experience,Ã¢Â€Â he said.
Sproul is looking forward to enjoying his free time in the city he has called home for nearly all his life.
Ã¢Â€ÂœStaunton is paradise to me. ItÃ¢Â€Â™s not flatlands. You have mountains on the horizon. The weather is never too extreme and the seasonal changes are spectacular. Also I have family roots here. My great-great-great grandfather came here in the 1750Ã¢Â€Â™s so itÃ¢Â€Â™s really home to me.Ã¢Â€Â
Family members: Wife, Sharon, mother, Ruth, son, Eric and daughter-in-law, Marie, daughter, Emily and son-in-law, Steven, four grandchildren, Carter, Andrew, Maggie and Eleanor, three brothers, Alex, Jim and David
Church you attend: Emmanuel Episcopal
Favorite leisure activities: Photography, playing guitar, gardening and church activities
Favorite motto: Everything in moderation
Recent reads: Ã¢Â€ÂœThe Wright BrothersÃ¢Â€Â by David McCullough
Dream conversation: Mark Twain
What quality do you most admire in a person? Curiosity
WhatÃ¢Â€Â™s on your Bucket List? Travel to Ireland and Scotland
Pet peeve: Misuse of the English language
Internet favorites: Weather sites and researching topics of interest
Greatest fear: Something untoward happening to a family member
Sports favorites: I really enjoyed watching the womenÃ¢Â€Â™s World Cup
Favorite music: Folk and Bluegrass
Favorite food: Wild salmon
Favorite actor: Tom Hanks
If you could sit down with President Obama, what would you like to say to him? Thanks and hang in there
Favorite artist: Ã¢Â€ÂœMy mother is an artist of considerable talent. She would be my favorite.Ã¢Â€Â
Living person you most admire: the Dali Lama
Historical figure you most admire? Abraham Lincoln