Obituary: James Arthur Stansfield
James Arthur Stansfield
James Arthur Stansfield, M.D., 94, completed life’s journey Nov. 1, 2018.
He was born the second son to Nell Hillie and Joseph W. Stansfield on June 5, 1924, in Juneau, Alaska. His parents moved to Alaska soon after WWI as school teachers. They also raised mink in Haines, which they sold through dealers in England and Russia for good prices and “never felt they were cheated.” They lived on a ranch with minimal contact with people.
They left behind the isolation for Washington. In 1938, near the end of the Great Depression, his father was high school principal in Issaquah and accepted a position as superintendent of schools at Coulee Dam.
During eighth grade, Jim and two classmates worked on a sheep and cattle ranch. In lieu of pay, each received a young unbroken horse. Jim kept his horse until high school graduation in 1943. The War was on, so he joined the Army. Following basic training at Ft. Hood, he was sent for specialized training at L.A. City College. By early 1944, he was sent back to the infantry, then on to pre-dental courses, then assigned to the medical corps as a dental assistant and graduated as a second lieutenant before age 21.
Jim was later shipped to the Philippines and Japan. In August 1945, we bombed Hiroshima and Nagasaki. He strongly believed the bomb saved thousands of lives. An invasion of Japan would have been extremely difficult because the Japanese would die before they would ever surrender.
While in Japan, Jim met a Rhodes scholar and fellow chess player from India who was employed by an English company. The Japanese would not allow the East Indian to leave the country and put him to work as an interpreter. Food was scarce, and Jim helped feed him. He advised Jim to go into health care as there would always be work and one would never go hungry. Jim considered this the best advice he ever received.
After the war, Jim attended Washington State College for his degree in chemistry. While there, working for the Delta Gamma Sorority as a houseboy, he met Patricia Mae Spohn. They married after graduating in August 1949, and left for Washington D.C., to attend medical school at George Washington University.
After medical school, the young family, now with two sons, Steve and Mark, moved to Quincy. Jim had filled in for a female doctor in Quincy who needed a vacation, and she convinced him to stay. Jim practiced medicine “womb to tomb” in Quincy for 32 years.
Over the years, the practice and the family grew, adding two daughters, Alison and Beth. Doc Jim recruited Dr. Robert Larson and Dr. John Trantow to join him, and helped the Quincy Hospital become a reality. When son Steve, returned to Quincy to practice medicine, they recruited two other outstanding young doctors to join them. Finally, Doc Jim and Doc John could retire and leave their beloved community, in capable hands.
Lifelong learning was instilled in Jim by his educator parents, and the value of an education was passed to his children, with all four earning college degrees, mostly at WSU. The next generation continues the legacy: Jamie, Cy and Alix, WSU Cougars, and Alyse, a CWU Wildcat.
After Pat passed away in 1990, he spent the majority of his summers exploring the Northwest’s wilderness areas with pack mules.
In 1993, he started a new chapter after meeting school teacher/horsewoman Joyce Palelek. They checked off items on his bucket list, traveling from the Arctic to the Antarctic and much in between, plus horseback adventures, always agreeing that the view is better from the back of a horse. Along the way, he attended annual gatherings of his Grand Coulee High School graduating class.
Jim is survived by: Steven Stansfield, of Seattle; Mark Stansfield, of Leavenworth; Alison (Eric) Whitener, of E. Wenatchee; and Beth Stansfield, of Quincy; and Joyce Palelek, of Vantage, his cherished lady friend of 25-some years; grandchildren include Cy (Alix) Whitener, of Wenatchee; Jamie Whitener, of Wenatchee; and Alyse Glessner, of Bothell; brothers-in-law Gary (Janet) Spohn, of Post Falls, Idaho; Jack (JoAnne) Spohn, of Poulsbo; and numerous cousins, nieces and nephews.
A celebration of life is tentatively planned for early June.