Gerald Bruce Stiles

Singing surgeon, Dodger fan

Dr. Gerald Bruce Stiles, a longtime Claremont resident and local surgeon, died on November 27, 2015. He was 88.

Canadian by birth and American by choice, Dr. Stiles became a naturalized American citizen in 1969. He was born in February 1927 to Gertrude Lillian Jones Stiles and Bruce Silas Stiles in Moncton, New Brunswick where he was raised. Young Gerry worked summers on the Canadian railway to earn money for college. He graduated from Acadia University in Nova Scotia in 1948 and from Dalhousie University Faculty of Medicine in Halifax in 1953. He did his residencies in Detroit, Michigan, North Bay, Ontario, Canada and Berkeley, California.

He met his future wife, Shirley Briggs, at a summer church service on the lawn in Moncton. The couple married and lived in Canada for a few years before moving to Pomona in 1964, where Dr. Stiles undertook his first position as a thoracic surgeon at Fischer Hauk Medical Clinic in Pomona. He practiced surgery at Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center for 28 years, serving as chief of surgery for a time. In 1964, Gerald and Shirley relocated to Claremont where they raised their family, including twin girls Heather and Leslie and their son Michael. Dr. and Mrs. Stiles lived in Claremont for the rest of their lives.

Dr. Stiles was a fan of tunes from the big band era, and was known to play music and sing during surgery. The story has been recounted by a dear doctor friend of his of a patient waking after surgery and thinking they were in heaven after hearing him sing. Gerald and his wife loved to travel the world, with favorite trips including journeys to England, Scotland, Ireland and the Mediterranean. He didn’t like arranged tours, preferring to organize these globetrotting events himself. He would study the language, read National Geographic articles and visit the auto club and public library for books and travel advice, determined to not use computers and the Internet for his research. They would rent apartments for longer visits and bed and breakfasts for shorter visits and did a lot of camping during their kids’ formative years.

They had car accidents in more than one country and it always made life seem sweeter and the adventure more daring when he would recount the tale, always detailing their escapades with a daily journal. Wherever they would travel they would collect a flag. Dr. Stiles was an avid photographer and would produce slide shows after trips to share with friends and loved ones. He loved to garden, both vegetables and flowers, and family can remember the elaborate lengths he went to in Claraboya to keep the wildlife away from his vegetables. More than one person got a shock trying to get into that garden. Gerald was also an avid sports fan. He loved the Los Angeles Dodgers and had season tickets for many years.

Gerald was preceded in death by his loving wife Shirley Marguerite Briggs Stiles, with whom he was united in marriage and service for 62 years, and by his sister Marion Lillian Stiles Stackhouse of Vancouver, Canada. He is survived by his daughters and sons-in-law, Heather Ann Stiles Boehner and Bill Boehner and Leslie Louise Stiles Baker and Joseph Baker, and his son and daughter-in-law, Michael Craig Stiles and Stephanie Johnson Stiles. He also leaves six grandchildren, Jeremiah Stiles Boehner, Patrick Stiles Boehner, Bethany Baker Broughton (Nathanial Broughton), Andrew Baker, Genevieve Stiles and Johnson Stiles as well as two great-grandchildren, Lincoln and Juliet Broughton. 

There will be a gathering of friends, family, co-workers and caregivers to honor Dr. Stiles’ life on Wednesday, December 9 from 4 to 7 p.m. in Pilgrim Hall at Pilgrim Congregational Church, located at 600 N. Garey Ave. in Pomona. You are invited to join his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren in remembrance, fellowship and celebration. Bring your stories to share.

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