John A. James, MD

AUBURN — Dr. John A. James died Aug. 31 at his beloved home, West-O-Lake, surrounded by his family.

He was born March 10, 1921, at the family farm on the corner of Stetson Rd. and Center St. in Auburn, the son of Daniel A. and Lorena (Sturtevant) James. He attended East Auburn School and Edward Little High School, graduating in 1938. He was awarded his bachelor’s degree from Bates College in 1942. He was president of the class at both schools.

Wishing to attend medical school, a dream he had had since a childhood experience helping his grandfather deliver a calf, he applied and was accepted to Boston University. Unable to afford tuition costs, he was afraid his dream would be dashed before it had started. But the merchants of Auburn got together and donated the funds to pay for his first year — hoping that he would return to Auburn to practice medicine. He enlisted in the army after his first year in medical school; the next two years were then paid by the army.

John married the love of his life, Barbara Moore, on May 23, 1943. Together they reared six children and lived in their home, West-O-Lakes, until Barbara’s death in 2002. John continued to live at home with the help of his children until his death.

The couple lived in Boston during John’s internship and residency at Boston Lying-In Hospital and Massachusetts Memorial Hospital. He then completed his professional development with specialty training in obstetrics and gynecology at Mass. Memorial.

He returned to his hometown of Auburn in 1950 and practiced until he was recalled to serve in the army during the Korean War.

He was assigned to a M.A.S.H. Unit, but at the last moment was sent to Sandia Base, Albuquerque, N.M., where he spent two years delivering babies. Returning to Auburn in 1955, he reopened his office and practiced medicine in the Twin Cities for the next 41 years, retiring in 1996. He estimated that the number of babies that he and his associate, Frederick B. Lidstone delivered in their practice was approximately 20,000. Nine of those were his own grandchildren.

During his career, he had the privilege of being elected president of the medical staff at Central Maine General Hospital, a position he held for several years. He was also chief of Obstetrics and Gynecology for many years. He was on the staff of St. Mary’s Hospital and CMG, later called Central Maine Medical Center. He was a strong board member for the CMMC School of Nursing, Tri-County Family Planning, and Androscoggin Home Care and Hospice. He was a member of the Peer Review Board of New England and Health Care Review of Rhode Island.

He was an avid sportsman, having participated in football, basketball, and track in high school, and football at Bates. The New York Giants, the Boston Red Sox and the Boston Celtics were his favorite professional teams. He and Barbara watched his daughters cheerlead at football, basketball, and hockey games; and his sons play football, soccer, basketball, baseball and compete in swimming. He was the team doctor for years for the ELHS football team. He was also commissioner of the Auburn Suburban Little league while his sons were participating. He and Barbara watched the grandchildren play soccer, football, basketball, baseball, softball, hockey and participate in swimming, gymnastics and cross-country skiing.

He enjoyed camping with his family and fishing with several buddies. He was a “gentleman farmer,” growing a large vegetable garden and having chickens, ducks, a cow, many horses and a donkey. He loved regaling his children and grandchildren with his many life stories.

His life was joyfully spent in service to the community where he was born. He was a long time member of High St. Congregational Church. He was a member of the Exchange Club for many years. He enjoyed living and working among people he had known his whole life.

He is survived by his brothers, Francis James, Bruce James and Norman James; daughters, Judith Upham and her husband, Tom, of Wilton, Susan Dowe and her husband, James, of Turner, and Barbara Mora and her husband, Gilbert, of Silver City, N.M.; sons, Jonathan James and his wife, Mary, of Auburn, and Richard James of Auburn; grandchildren, Caitlin Dowe-Sandes and her husband, Samuel, Erika Dowe Fitzgerald and her husband, Matthew, Paul J. Dowe III; James, Hannah and Elizabeth Upham; Jeffrey, Daniel, and Willis Becker; Chelsea, Julianne, Allison, Nicholas and Noah James; great-grandchildren, Sadie and Maddox Fitzgerald, Landen and Cash Thomas, Orrin Becker, and Gavin Hubble.

He was predeceased by a brother, Dana; a sister, Beryl; a son, Peter; and his beloved wife, Barbara.

The family wishes to thank Androscoggin Home Care and Hospice for the care of John and his family. Also, special thanks to Uncle Francis, Uncle Bruce and Aunt Barbara who extended hospitality and care for the last few years.

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