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The history of Arizona's physicians is rich in mystery, controversy, innovation and pride. Since the settlers first inhabited the territory, physicians have been a part of Arizona's legacy. They helped shape the culture of this Great State and set the standard for the quality of care delivered to its citizens. The Physicians of Interest page on this website highlights the historical work of Arizona's physicians and the roles they played while shaping the State's future. The biography of a new physician will be added each month and in time, the page will represent a patchwork of the names and faces that brought medicine in Arizona to life.


J.W. Lennox, M.D.

When the Pima County Medical Society celebrated its 50th anniversary in October 1954, the cocktail lounge was named the Lennox Room - honoring the medical society's co-founder and first secretary-treasurer.

No one suspected that Dr. Lennox was not only alive, but that he was still practicing medicine!

It's not too surprising. Early Arizona doctors are often a mystery.

Many physicians passed through the Arizona Territory. Several were contract surgeons with the U.S. Army. Most were in search of opportunity in the form of land, minerals or business. Some met bad ends at the end of guns. Others were so ill-trained that their skills were not needed in the 20th century.

Dr. Lennox was in Arizona, mainly at a small mining town of Helvetia southeast of Tucson. He spent a decade in Arizona (1899-1909) and was the medical society's third president.

Preparing for the October 2004 medical society centennial, PCMS decided it wanted to know what happened to Dr. Lennox.

According to the Arizona Medical Board's Great Register, John W. Lennox MD was the 36th physician licensed in Arizona. A handwritten note in the Great Register says, "left state."

The National Geneology Society, collector of all US physician obituaries, had no listing for Dr. Lennox. A staff person there suggested he was not recognized as a physician when he died.

What happened? Had Dr. Lennox changed jobs? Worse, had he done something to lose his license?

A contact at the American Medical Association Archives in Chicago said he found no John Lennox in his records, but he did find a J.W. Lennox practicing in Canada from 1912 to 1928. The Victoria, British Columbia, Medical Society was contacted. They sent all the information they had…on Joseph W. Lennox.

A dead end. Or was it.

Joseph W. Lennox and John W. Lennox went to the same Canadian medical school and graduated on the same date. They both got their first medical jobs at the same Michigan mine the same year.

The trick was to find a reference to J.W. Lennox in Tucson that showed he was Joseph and not John. The problem was professional men in Territorial days used initials. Dr. Lennox signed all of the PCMS minutes, his quitclaim on mining equipment, his ads in the newspapers as "J.W. Lennox."

Then we found it. He voted at Helvetia in 1906. The poll record says "Joseph W. Lennox." A check of the census for 1900 shows only "Jos. W. Lennox" from Canada living in Helvetia. Finally, J.W. Lennox MD married Ethel May Bechtel of Victoria, Canada at a Tucson wedding in 1906. The 1959 Canadian obituary for Joseph W. Lennox, MD, lists Ethel M. Lennox as the surviving wife.

So far from being a scofflaw, Dr. Lennox was a solid fellow. How solid? He was president, twice, of the Victoria medical society in 1925 and 1943. He served as a Captain in the Reserve Medical Service during World War I, and took additional medical training in London in 1915. He was made a life member of the College of Physician and Surgeons of British Columbia in 1955. He practiced until 1958. He was given a silver platter by the Victoria medical society in early 1959 to honor his long years of service.

He is now recognized in two countries as being a special practitioner who sought to improve the ethics, skills and practice of all physicians. Dr. Lennox passed away on September 14, 1959 at 86 years of age.




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