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This article is from the Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, 6 volumes, edited by William S. Powell. Copyright ©1979-1996 by the University of North Carolina Press. Used by permission of the publisher. For personal use and not for further distribution. Please submit permission requests for other use directly to the publisher.

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VanPoole, Gideon McDonald

by William S. Powell, 1996

2 Sept. 1872–12 Apr. 1950

Gideon McDonald VanPoole, physician and eye, ear, nose, and throat specialist, was born in Salisbury, the son of Otho and Lucretia Lentz VanPoole. In 1894 he entered The University of North Carolina, where he studied medicine in 1895–96; he received a medical degree from the University of Maryland in 1899. An acting U.S. Army assistant surgeon in 1900, he served in the Boxer uprising in China and afterwards was promoted to first lieutenant.

VanPoole was back in the United States from 1902 to 1905, when he married Margaret van Schenck van Dyke. Between 1905 and 1907 he was in the Philippines, where he was promoted to captain in 1906. Returning to the United States in 1907, he became a major in the medical corps in 1910. He next served in Hawaii (1913–16) and on the Mexican border. When the United States began preparations for World War I, he became an instructor at Fort Benjamin Harrison, Ind., and Camp Greenleaf, Ga. Promoted to lieutenant colonel in 1917, he took Evacuation Hospital No. 6 to France; there he was engaged in two battles on the front line and was decorated by the French government. He was advanced to colonel in the medical corps in 1918 and returned from France the next year. Because of physical disability, he retired from the army in 1920.

Moving to Honolulu, he served on the staff of Queen's, St. Francis, Kapiolani Maternity and Children's, and Kuakini hospitals and the Leahi Home for chronic invalids. In 1933 and 1936 he was a member of the House of Delegates of the American Medical Association, and in 1934–35 he was president of the Hawaii Territorial Medical Association. In 1942 he represented The University of North Carolina at the inauguration of the new president of the University of Hawaii.

Dr. VanPoole was a member of the American Academy of Ophthalmology and Otolaryngology, American Bronchoscopic Society, American Ophthalmological Society, Association for Research in Ophthalmology, International College of Surgeons, and American Broncho-Esophagological Association. He also was a specialist certified by the American Board of Ophthalmology and the American Board of Otolaryngology.


Alumni Files (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill).

Daniel L. Grant, Alumni History of the University of North Carolina (1924).

Honolulu Advertiser, 13 Apr. 1950, 5 Aug. 1951.

Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 25 May 1959.

Journal of the American Medical Association 143 (24 June 1950).

Men of Hawaii, vol. 5 (1935).

Additional Resources:

University of North Carolina. The University of North Carolina Catalogue. Chapel Hill (N.C.): University of North Carolina. 1895. 70. (accessed March 24, 2014).

Association of Military Surgeons of the United States. The Military Surgeon, Vol. XXIII. [Washington]: Association of Military Surgeons of the United States. 1908. (accessed March 24, 2014).

Schmidt, Robert C. "Two Centuries of Eye Care in Hawai'i." The Hawaiian Journal of History, Vol. 19(1895). 

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