Longtime area physician dies at age 90

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Longtime Cape Girardeau physician Dr. Edward Campbell, who practiced medicine for 40 years and initially treated patients in an upstairs office above a drugstore on Good Hope Street, died Sunday at the age of 90.

Campbell's career spanned the days of general practitioner house calls to the age of specialized medical practice. During his career he worked at both Cape Girardeau hospitals but was most closely associated with Saint Francis Medical Center, where he was a past chairman of the board and where the intensive care center is named for him.

"He was a considerate, concerned practitioner," said Dr. Harold Ridings, a friend and fellow physician. "He was highly respected in his profession."

As a general practitioner, Campbell -- whose father and grandfather also were doctors -- treated patients for a variety of ailments and also delivered babies. He later specialized in rectal surgery.

He was residing at the Missouri Veterans Home when he died.

In a 1987 interview with the Southeast Missourian, Campbell said he had seen amazing changes in medicine.

"I've observed my grandfather and father in the horse and buggy days of medicine when a physician's role was as much a counselor and friend as anything. And now I've had the chance to serve in medicine during this time when medicine has become sophisticated and actually life-saving," he recalled.

A stop for soda

Campbell opened a medical practice in Cape Girardeau in May 1946, taking over the practice of a doctor who was retiring. He had been living in St. Louis after World War II and planned to buy a doctor's practice in Sikeston, Mo., but when he got there learned that the doctor had died.

On his trip back to St. Louis, he stopped in Cape Girardeau to have a soda at a drugstore and ended up staying.

"I didn't stay above Kinder's Drugstore for very long. The space was too small," he recalled when interviewed for a Saint Francis Medical Center publication in 2000.

Delivering babies was a regular part of his medical practice for years. "I did a lot of obstetrics when I came to town. I was up at night a lot, making my way from my home to Saint Francis Hospital, sometimes three or four times a night," Campbell said when interviewed in 2000.

There were only 16 doctors in Cape Girardeau when Campbell settled here in the mid-1940s.

Dr. John Holcomb of Cape Girardeau said Campbell was a dedicated doctor. "He was a nice man. His patients were all fond of him."

Holcomb said that early in Campbell's career doctors charged $3 for an office visit and $75 to deliver a baby. "That was back when a dollar was worth a dollar," he said.

Campbell, who grew up in Xenia, Ill., graduated from the St. Louis University School of Medicine in 1941. World War II put his medical career on hold. He was awarded a Bronze Star for his surgical service with the Army in the Pacific.

He retired in June 1986.

His wife, Bernadean, died in 1994. He is survived by four children, six grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.

Visitation will be from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday at Ford & Sons Mount Auburn Funeral Home. The funeral will be at 10 a.m. Friday at Centenary United Methodist Church. Burial will be in Memorial Park Mausoleum.


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