Obituary for Dr. Henry Poore

Obituary for Dr. Henry Poore

Dr. Henry Poore, who with his wife, Nina, and Bill Packard founded a free medical clinic in Flagstaff, died at his home Wednesday.

He was 84 and his family was at his side.

Both Henry and Nina Poore were Arizona Daily Sun Citizens of the Year, and the medical clinic was the 2013 Organization of the Year.

Poore came with his family from Virginia to Flagstaff while looking for a place to relocate. While here, he was convinced by Dr. Charles Sechrist, founder of what was then Flagstaff Hospital, to stay and practice medicine.

Poore established a private practice in Flagstaff for 35 years, doing surgery in the mornings, rounds in the hospital, and seeing patients in his office in the afternoons.

He saw 40 or 50 patients per day -- a caseload about twice what a very busy physician would take today -- while raising seven kids with Nina.

"I knew all of them, and I knew their families, and I knew their grandmothers. That was the joy of practicing," he told the Daily Sun during an interview in 2013.

In that time, malpractice insurance, much more expensive technology and disputes with insurance companies about what would be covered entered the picture, and the cost of medical school multiplied from the $500 per year Poore had spent.

Poore "retired" in the 1980s.

He and Nina started medical missions to Honduras, Africa, Mexico, the Navajo Nation, Havasupai, Alaska after the Valdez oil spill, and the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina.

Nina, a nurse, helped to start Citizens Against Substance Abuse, and in 1990 she was named an Arizona Daily Sun Citizen of the Year.

He started thinking about how to open a free clinic, along with Nina and Bill Packard, opening it in the fall of 2011.

"We're seeing the patients who are uninsured, and the ones who are falling through the cracks," he told the Daily Sun.

Poore said some of the health problems he saw rival what he saw in developing countries.

The first clinic opened on North Humphreys Street. A second opened last year in Sunnyside, and there is also a dental clinic now. It is staffed by unpaid health care providers and volunteers.

The clinic, which served about 4,000 patients in its first two years, caters to the uninsured, the homeless and other people who are at or near the poverty level. The patients are people who don’t have “the price of a doughnut in their pocket,” Poore told the Daily Sun.

Each new patient receives a full initial workup and is treated with dignity. Nina said there is a book in the front of the clinic where patients can write responses. One that sticks with her is: “I have felt looked after. It has been a long time.”

“That brings a tear to my eye every time, because that pretty much says the whole thing,” Nina added.

Poore had been seriously ill for several months, and Nina said he worried about his patients.

“When he got ill, Henry made arrangements to be sure there were people there to carry on the clinic,” Nina said Wednesday, adding that the clinic will continue without interruption.

Nine said that at Henry’s insistence, there will be no local memorial service. He will be cremated and his ashes returned to his native Virginia. A memorial fund has been set up in his honor with the Arizona Community Foundation-Flagstaff.

In addition to Nina, Poore is survived by seven children: Ann Lizbeth Poore Bowman (Glen) - Harrisonburg, VA; Matthew Henry Poore (Jeannette Moore) - Raleigh, NC; Amy Carol DeLap (Chris) - Salt Lake City, UT; Mary Joanna Hartmann (Al) - Salt Lake City, UT; Margaret Melissa Poore - Ocracoke Island, NC; Sara Kate Poore (John Hennessy) - Fredericksburg, VA; Samuel Oliver Poore (Hannah Copp) - Madison, WI.

Readers wishing to leave a remembrance or condolence may do so in the comment section of this story at

This article originally appeared in the Arizona Daily Sun. Dr. Poore's daughter, Meg Poore, is the 5th grade teacher at Ocracoke School. The family has owned a home on Ocracoke for decades. 

Comments powered by Disqus