Saturday, May 25, 2002

Obituary: Arthur King, pioneer in obstetrics research

Harvard grad served in South Pacific

By Rebecca Billman,
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Dr. Arthur Gustave King changed the way women have babies.

        His pioneering research influenced obstetrical practices nationwide.

        For example, when he graduated from Harvard Medical School in 1930, it was customary for women to remain hospitalized for 10 days after giving birth — and to stay in bed a good number of those days. But Dr. King felt it was better for them to be up and about earlier, a position he promoted in a paper published in a medical journal in 1946.

        He also wrote papers on treatment of high blood pressure during pregnancy, and on threatened miscarriages, as well as papers on reactions to drugs during delivery and hastening labor by rupturing the membranes — a common procedure today.

        Dr. King, who spent 53 years practicing obstetrics and gynecology in Cincinnati, died Wednesday at Good Samaritan Hospital. The Clifton resident was 95.

        Born in Berlin in 1906, Dr. King grew up in Cambridge, Mass. He received an bachelor's degree from Harvard College in 1926 and an M.D. from Harvard Medical School in 1930. He also received a master's degree from Tulane University in 1933.

        Dr. King was certified as a Diplomate of the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology in 1937.

        Having chosen Cincinnati in 1935 as the place to set up his private practice, he became an important part of this city, helping to improve the quality of life for countless numbers of its citizens, and helping to preserve its history.

        In 1930, Dr. King became an officer in the Army Reserve. During the flood of 1937 he was a member of the 53rd Evacuation Hospital, which ran the Emergency Medical Service.

        In August 1941, he was ordered into active duty and appointed surgeon of Task Force 6814 of the 29th Division. He was among the first to leave the United States after the attack on Pearl Harbor.

        He was sent to the South Pacific, where he was medical inspector, then surgeon of the Hebrides. He also saw combat on Guadalcanal when he was attached to the First Marine Division. He received the Bronze Star and was promoted to the rank of colonel.

        Back in Cincinnati, Dr. King continued in private practice and became a faculty member at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine and a consultant to the Health Department.

        He was affiliated with General Hospital (now University Hospital) from 1936 to 1976 and Jewish Hospital from 1936 to 1988 — the year he retired. Dr. King was also chief of staff of the Catherine Booth Hospital from 1952 to 1969.

        The Cincinnati Obstetrical and Gynecological Society presented Dr. King with its first Lifetime Achievement Award in 1995.

        Marthe Leftovith King, his wife of 70 years, died May 9.

        Survivors include: two daughters, Angie King of San Luis Obispo, Calif. and Deborah Wroth of Bloomington, Ind.; a brother, Lester S. King of Chicago; and three grandchildren.

        Dr. King's remains were cremated. There will be a celebration of his and Marthe's life in September.


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