Local icon Dr. John R. Gamble, Jr. passed away Monday night, CMC-Lincoln officials confirmed.
A Lincolnton native, Gamble was born on March 22, 1922 to Dr. John Reeves and Hope Seibert Gamble. After graduating from Lincolnton High School, Gamble, 92 went on to attend Emory University and the University of Maryland’s School of Medicine. From there, he trained as a surgeon at Charlotte Memorial Hospital and Roanoke General Hospital, ultimately returning to Lincolnton to practice medicine at the Reeves Gamble Hospital in 1948.
According to his high school friend Charles Eurey, Gamble’s death is a great loss to the community.
“We have kept in touch over the years and have been very close friends,” Eurey said. “I highly regarded him, and I was so sorry to learn of his demise. He certainly was a great citizen of North Carolina, as well as Lincoln County. His death brings a great loss to the city and county, and to the state, for that matter.”
Gamble was called to serve in the army in 1954, working as a MASH surgeon in both Korea and Japan, according to City of Lincolnton documents. Upon his return in 1956, the Reeves Gamble hospital reopened its doors, serving the community until the 1960s, when it was donated to the county for the formation of Lincoln County Hospital.
In addition to his exceptional skills in medicine, Gamble is also remembered as a strong political leader, serving on the county’s Board of Commissioners as well as the state’s legislature. As a member of the General Assembly, Gamble was a major force behind adding a medical school for East Carolina University. His passion for serving the public was noticed by North Carolinians of all ages.
“I remember my first real interaction with Doc when I was in high school and was a student guest at a Rotary luncheon,” North Carolina state Rep. Jason Saine recalled. “He was very interested in where I was going to attend college and took a lot of interest in what I wanted to study. As a young person, it struck me that he took a genuine interest in who I was and what I wanted to become. He remembered my mother and was actually the person who hired her at the hospital years ago when it was getting started.”
Saine said that while the two were “political opposites and locked horns on occasion during campaigns,” they were able to work together in the hiring of a new county tax department director after both being appointed to a search committee.
“By working together with Doc and other committee members, we found a lot of common ground between the two of us and struck a long standing friendship,” he said.
“Dr. Gamble was not only a resident, but a doctor to many of our county’s residents,” county commissioner Cecelia Martin said. “He was a staple in our community, serving as a county commissioner and in the House of Representatives. He will be missed.”
“He leaves big shoes to fill,” Saine said. “His frankness and straight shooting nature is something you don’t find as much anymore in politics and public service. Men like John Gamble aren’t made every day, and he will be missed.”
Gamble is survived by his three children: John R. Gamble, III of Raleigh, Elizabeth Rhodes Gamble and her husband Peter R. Lichstein of Winston-Salem and Mary Caroline Gamble of Advance. He is also survived by his two grandchildren, Paul Michael Lichstein of Palo Alto, Ca. and Jesse Carolina Lichstein of Carrboro. The family will receive friends at Emmanuel Lutheran Church on June 5 at 1 p.m. The service will follow at 2 p.m., and the internment will follow the service at Hollybrook Cemetery. Memorials in lieu of flowers can be made to the Emmanuel Lutheran Church Memorial Fund or a charity of choice.