David Stoddard Gans, M.D. Our North Coast Medical Community lost one of its premier physicians, Dr. David Stoddard Gans, on Labor Day. He passed away unexpectedly in the arms of his loving wife, Tara. A long time resident of the Arcata area, Dr. Gans was born in Berkeley, CA on November 24, 1939 and spent his youth there and in nearby El Cerrito. Despite losing his father half way through high school, David was a remarkable student who became an accomplished artist in ink and watercolors and won a statewide contest with a painting of "What America Means to Me". A long time aficionado of the Arts and creative endeavors, David would eventually serve on the Humboldt Arts Council. Graduating from high school in 1957, David attended the University of California in Berkeley and majored in Philosophy, as did his father, a Rhodes Scholar. David became very interested in writing and emerged as a sensitive and thought-provoking poet. He was very active in the early Civil Rights movement and other political causes dedicated to improving the lives of those less fortunate. Earning his undergraduate degree in Philosophy, David was a finalist for the Woodrow Wilson Fellowship in Philosophy and thought to pursue Philosophy as a post graduate. Yet medicine also appealed to David so he also applied to Medical School at the University of California at San Francisco where he was accepted. While in medical school, David developed a passion for music. Between his studies, he frequented jazz clubs and other venues. Later in life, David would combine his love of music and poetry by forming two groups performing "spoken word" with some very talented musicians one in Los Angeles and later, the Arcata "Speakeasy" group. Having earned his M.D., Dr. Gans received additional Internal Medicine training and a Nephrology fellowship from USC Los Angeles Medical Center. He was on the Teaching and Attending Staff of premiere Southern California hospitals such as Cedars-Sinai and USC Medical Centers, "back in the day" as he would say, when L.A. was a magical land of stars and VIPs and practicing medicine was the ultimate endeavor. David's dedication to medicine as a calling was clearly demonstrated when he led a doctors' strike as a Resident at Los Angeles County Hospital, not for more money (though the pay was pathetic), not for more reasonably working conditions (though shifts were often 24 hours and 36 hours long), but for the improvement of patient care. In fact, this event was so noteworthy that a TV movie was made about the strike entitled "The Quality of Mercy". Eventually, Dr. Gans missed his northern California roots and after 20 years of serving the rich and famous with his Beverly Hills practice, he and Tara moved to Arcata in 1994. David often commented that his practice in Arcata was his dream practice, providing essential health care services to a deserving community. He loved to mentor new physician residents who would shadow him on his hospital rounds, clinic visits and medical staff meetings. Dr. Gans was Chief of Staff three times at Mad River Community Hospital, served on the Hospital's Medical Executive Committee, was a member of the Hospital's Board of Directors and voted the Most Popular Doctor. It was a true testimony to David's commitment to patient care that the winning ballot came from a night shift nurse who was perturbed that when Dr. Gans called at night to receive updates on his patients he would not hesitate to issue new orders. The nurse had eventually realized that, even in the middle of the night, Dr. Gans was thinking of his patient's welfare. He was a stalwart supporter of Mad River Community Hospital and his presence as a mentor and a friend will never be replaced. Dr. Gans loved sharing his medical and philosophical training with patients and friends. He was a passionate physician like so many of his generation that considered medicine not a career but a calling to be answered with no half measure, but with his full heart and soul. Like his namesake, David was infinitely courageous and never hesitated to defend those less fortunate or raise the flag against injustice. His was a heart that was generous, loyal, dedicated and compassionate. David's caring extended to all living beings including animals and his last non-medical trip away from Arcata was with his brother Jonathan to Bandon Oregon Wild Animal Game Park where he was thrilled to pet a Bengal Tiger cub. David is survived by his wife Tara Gans and his brother Jonathan Meir Gans and preceded in death by his father Abraham Isiah Gans and his mother Nancy Jane Stoddard Gans. His family suggests that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to support animal conservation groups. A celebration of his life will be held on October 11, 2014, 11:00 am at the Adult Day Health Care Center located at 3800 Janes Road, behind Mad River Community Hospital in Arcata, California. Please sign the guestbook at www.times-standard.com
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