The recent passing of the founding publisher of The Journal of Family Practice, David Warfield Stires, is an occasion to honor and celebrate his support of, and dedication to, the specialty of family medicine.
David and I began working together in 1970. That was one year after family medicine was recognized as the 20th medical specialty in the United States. It was also a year after I left my solo rural family practice in Mount Shasta, Calif. to convert the general practice residency at Sonoma County Hospital, Santa Rosa, to a 3-year family practice residency affiliated with the University of California San Francisco School of Medicine.
David Warfield Stires
In 1970, I’d just completed my first book manuscript, “The Modern Family Doctor and Changing Medical Practice,” and I went searching for a publisher for it. After 2 rejections, I approached David, who was the president of Appleton-Century-Crofts, the second largest medical publisher in the country. He grew up in a small town near Canton, Ohio, and his father had been a general practitioner and a real country doctor. David immediately saw the value of my book, and our lifelong friendship began.
There was no academic journal in the field of family medicine at that time. The only thing that came close was the American Academy of Family Physicians’ journal for summary CME articles, American Family Physician. As we got to talking, David saw the need to expand the field’s literature base to articulate its academic discipline and report original research. We soon held an organizational meeting of a new editorial board in San Francisco. And in 1974, The Journal of Family Practice was “born” with Appleton-Century-Crofts as its publisher.
David saw the need to expand the field's literature base to articulate its academic discipline and report original research.
Because we had very little startup funding, we depended on advertising to enable us to send the journal to all general and family physicians in the United States. In those early years, advertising income was sufficient to maintain the journal. But with increasing pressure to bring in more and more ad dollars, JFP was bought and sold over the next 16 years. And in 1990, I left as editor and began my stint as editor of the Journal of the American Board of Family Practice (now Family Medicine).
After more than 30 years in publishing, David and his wife, Wendy, moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico, where he pursued his lifelong interest in photography, and where his work was regularly shown in galleries. He and I saw each other frequently over the years, often visiting in the Pacific Northwest. Beyond the many books that he published, he was most proud of creating JFP.
Today, 43 years later, David’s legacy lives on in a vibrant journal and medical specialty. Thank you, David, for your lifelong support of family medicine and for your friendship.