Column No. 29

Health Care in Ruby
Dr. Woodard went out of his way to help people

Bob Ring, Al Ring, Tallia Pfrimmer Cahoon

From 1930 to 1940, Ruby residents health care was in the very capable hands of Dr. Julius H. Woodard. Dr. Woodard’s office and hospital building, constructed of distinctly bronze adobe material, was just east of the bunkhouses. White stucco covered the walls, inside and out.

The combined office-hospital consisted of a waiting room, an examining room, a room where Dr. Woodard performed surgeries, and another partitioned area, containing nine beds, where hospitalized patients recovered. Hospital floors throughout were concrete. Eight windows allowed for ventilation.

Dr. Woodard’s wife, Pauline, was his nurse. Starting in 1934, diesel equipment mechanic “Red” Worth’s wife, Ann, also helped out as a nurse.

Ann Worth recalled that there was never a serious accident during the Worth’s years (1934-1940) in Ruby:

“We had a couple of minor blasts below, but we’d just pick bits of rock out of their backs and calves of their legs and they’d stay in the infirmary for maybe a night, so that was it. A couple of men … lost toes when equipment fell on them. But nobody lost hands or arms … We were very fortunate.

“We did have a terrible explosion one time. Doctor was running morning clinic and we heard this terrible explosion. Doctor ran to the door and he said, ‘Oh, my God!’ … So the first thing he did was grab his little bag and start running up the hill to the mine shaft. About fifteen minutes later he was back and said, ‘Nobody hurt.’ And I started to cry. I was so keyed up you know because we were so close to these people.”

As her husband Red Worth explained:

“This didn’t happen to be a powder explosion underground. It was an air compressor in the power plant … Well, the compressor head went out the roof and left a big hole. Everyone piled in and started repairs. We were on the job thirty-two hours straight before going off.”

Columnist Tallia Pfrimmer Cahoon remembered the hospital well:

“No appointments were necessary to see Dr. Woodard. Patients sat on long white benches while waiting their turn. Upon entering the waiting room from the outside, patients were met with the sharp, heavy odor of ether.”

Julius Woodard was born in 1900 in Lancaster, Missouri. After he graduated from Washington University Medical School in Saint Louis, Dr. Woodard went to work for the Eagle-Picher Company in Missouri. Ironically, it was contracting tuberculosis (TB) that brought Dr. Woodard to Ruby. Eagle-Picher was able to transfer Dr. Woodard from Missouri to the company’s operation in Ruby, where the climate was warmer and dryer.

Sammy Rosthenhausler, who lived in Ruby as a youngster, told the story that his grandmother, a local healer, provided Dr. Woodard with a local herb to speed his recovery from TB. At any rate, Dr. Woodard’s health improved quickly; he never had serious trouble with TB again.

In Ruby, Dr. Woodard healed the sick, delivered babies (at least 40), performed surgery, set broken bones, and administered anesthesia. He was licensed to do surgery, anesthesiology, and pediatrics, and was reportedly the last physician in Arizona to be licensed in multiple fields of medicine.

Dr. Woodard was so well respected, that people from Arivaca (which had no doctor in the 1930s), and surrounding mines and ranches, came to Ruby when they needed medical help.

Dr. Woodard was also a stutterer, but this condition never affected his work nor limited his relationships with his patients. Indeed, Dr. Woodard’s patients adored him.

Mary Noon Kasulaitis, Arivaca area historian and writer, summed up the general feelings about Dr. Woodard:

“He was a busy man with a sense of humor who went out of his way to help people. Considerate and kind, he is one of the reasons that former Ruby residents look back on that period of time in their lives with such good memories.”

When Eagle-Picher closed down mining operations in 1940, Dr. Woodard moved to Tucson. He practiced medicine at St. Mary’s hospital, with an office on Church Street, where he cared for many patients who had also moved to Tucson from Ruby. Dr. Woodard died suddenly of a heart attack in Tucson in 1954 at the relatively young age of 54.

Dental work was also available in Ruby. During the 1930s, Tucson dentist, Edgar A. Romo, visited Ruby once a week. He brought a dentist chair and a hand pump drill to Ruby in the back of his pickup truck. “Red” Worth remembered that the dentist “set up in one of the clinic 'Dr. Woodard’s hospital' rooms.”

(Sources: Dan B. McCarthy, “The Return to Ruby,” Phoenix Republic, October 1, 1972; Conversations with former Dr. Woodard nurse Maria Jackson, 2000; Mary Noon Kasulaitis, “Dr. Julius H. Woodard of Ruby,” The Connection, December 2000; Telephone interviews with relatives of Edgar A. Romo, 2003)

Ruby Hospital

Well-respected Dr. Julius Woodard ran Ruby’s hospital. (Tallia Pfrimmer Cahoon private collection, 1935)


Dr. Julius Woodard, shown with his wife Pauline, went out of the way to help people. (Photo courtesy of Concha Revello Parker, circa mid 1930s)

Next time: Schooling in Ruby

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