Born in 1892, Arthur Edward Gouge was the son of William and Minerva Sparks Gouge. His father was determined his son become a doctor, a daunting aspiration in those days, but through his own and his family’s hard work, A.E. Gouge graduated Bowman Academy in Bakersville and then attended the Medical College in Richmond, VA.
Gouge hung out his shingle in 1917, when physicians in the mountains were rare, home remedies were still the rule, and a doctor was called only as a last resort. His early years, similar to those of other doctors in rural mountain communities, consisted of “sleeping in the saddle in the summer, and frozen to the saddle in the winter.” In 1924 he sold his horse and bought a Ford, and continued a busy practice until his retirement in 1969 after he broke a hip; the only time away from his Bakersville practice was his years in France as a medical officer during WWI.
Doc and his wife Ruby Sisk Gouge (1898-1988) had no children of their own, but they felt “a lot of affection” for all those they were associated with over the years, he as physician and she as educator. Gouge figured he delivered nearly 5000 babies during his career, this writer being one of them!
Doc A.E. Gouge retired from his practice in 1969 and died in 1975.