Dr. Pomeroy, County Health Officer, Dies
Wife at Bedside as End Comes to Pioneer in Public Medicine
Dr. John Larrabee Pomeroy, 57, who served as Los Angeles County Health Officer since that office was created in 1915, died yesterday in a California Hospital after a brief illness.
Throughout the county flags flew at half-staff in respect to the man who in 1925 pioneered the development of district health centers for the indigent.
Wife at Bedside- His wife, Mrs. Lecile Jones Pomeroy, was at the bedside. Dr. Pomeroy entered the hospital two weeks ago but went on sick leave, from the county health office last December.
The autopsy indicated that death was caused by a kidney ailment, the attending physician Dr. Charles Bennett, reported.
Born in Louisville, KY, Dr. Pomeroy was graduated from the Hospital College of Medicine there and furthered his professional studies at Bellevue College in New York. He served his internship at Charity Hospital in New York City and became a resident physician at the New York State Hospital in 1905.
Married in 1907- In 1907 he married Lillian Brennan, of New York City, who died in 1930. They had one child, Stanley Norris Pregnancy of San Marino.
Dr. Pomeroy joined the United States Army Medical Corps in 1908 as assistant surgeon in Spokane, Wash. After four years in private practice, he came to Southern California as resident physican in a private sanitarium and part-time health officer of the city of Monrovia. In 1915 he assumed his present post and for many years was the only full-time County Health Officer in the West.
Cited as Leader- During his administration, Los Angeles County archieved a reputation as one of the nation's most healthful areasand was frequently city by the United States Chamber of Commerce as a leaderin rural health conservation.
In the World War, Dr. Pomeroy returned to duty as a captain in the Medical Corps at Fr. Riely, Kansas.
Dr. Pomeroy married Miss Lecile Jones, executive secretary of the Los Angeles County Tuberculosis and Health Association and formerly a social worker in his department. In August, 1930. they have one child, Joan, 9. the Pomeroy home is at 401 Tigertail Road, Brentwood Heights.
He was credited with having drafted and sponsored passage of the first metropolitan sewage of the first metropolitan sewage disposal bill and pioneered public supervision of eating places. He was the author of several books and numerous papers on public health matters, a member of the State and County Medical Associations, the American Public Health Association and helped to found the Southern California Public Health Association.
Dr. Pomeroy was a Presbyterian and a Mason.
Funeral Thursday- Funeral services will be conducted Thursday at 10:30 a.m. in the Wee Kirk o' the Heather, Forest Lawn Memorial Park. Dr. William Wirth will officiate and private interment will follow. The physician's body will lie in state at Forest Lawn today and tomorrow.
Acting on a motion presented the Supervisor John Anson Ford, the Board of Supervisors ordered a letter of condolence sent to the family of Dr. Pomeroy on behalf of the board and the county government.
Board Grieved- "The passing of Dr. Pomeroy removes the public service one of teh ablest and most highly esteemed public figures in California. Not only has he earned and held the special regard of his fellow medical men, but he has been recognized as an outstanding pioneer in the relatively new field of public health.
"Coming to Los Angeles 25 years ago as a lone representative of public health, he rendered a steadily expanding service, the value of which won recognition and support in all communities with which he came in contact.
One of the First- "Dr. Pomeroy had been trained in New York in one of America's first public health offices. Time and again in his quarter of a century of administration in this country, national and international medical and health agencies formally attested to the high regard in which he and his work have been held.
"The general health and the general sanitary conditions in this country have shown steady improvement. In various crises, notably when the bubonic plague broke out in one congested section, Dr. Pomeroy's courageous and immediate action saved Los Angeles from widespread epidemics and great loss of life.
Growth of Department- "Dr. Pomeroy initially was the lone Health Department employee when he came here in 1915. Today his department has nearly 500 employees. We now serve an estimated population of 993,202 in the area served by the County Health Department. This included 30 cities of the 44 in the country."
Roger W. Jessup, chairman of the board, declared:
"In the passing of Dr. J.L. Pomeroy, the citizens of Los Angeles County have suffered a loss of a public official whose ambitions during his 25 years in public office have been one of service.
Temporary Successor- "His tireless efforts had raised the Federal rating of the Health Department of the County of Los Angeles to a point equal to any county in the United States."
Under the law the Supervisors are compelled to immediately appoint an acting county health officer to fill the vacancy left by the dath of Dr. Pomeroy, such appointment to be for 60 days at which time a county civil service examination will be held to select an officer for a permanent appointment.
Rev. Roy Gilbert, who since March 13, 1939 has been assistant to Dr. Pomeroy, was selected for the temporary appintment. Dr. Gilbert entered teh County Health Departemnt service in September 1930, as a district health officer in the San Fernando district. When made assistant to Dr. Pomeroy he was place in charge of the East Los Angeles health Center of the County Heatlth Department, also serving the district health officr for the East Los Angeles and Whittier districts.
Dr. Gilbert came to California in 1924 after graduating from the Medical School of teh University of Michigan and began private practice in Long Beach where he continued until he entered county service. When his wife and daughter, 14, he resides at 15113 Encanto Drive, Sherman Oaks.