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Dr. and Mrs. Rupert Graves


Dr. and Mrs. Rupert GravesRupert Graves, MD, was a “cowboy doctor” who valued education and family above all else. And he was a friend of Western University of Health Sciences, helping to establish a fund that has contributed more than $1 million to student scholarships.

Dr. Graves died Oct. 24, 2014 at the age of 96. He and other doctors formed the San Miguel Hospital Association and built a hospital in the early 1950s. They sold the hospital in December 1992 and used the funds from the sale to establish medical student scholarships in perpetuity at the University of California, San Diego and at WesternU. The San Diego Foundation’s San Miguel Association Medical Scholarship Fund surpassed $1 million in total scholarships awarded to College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific students in 2016.

COMP alumna Heather Bitar, DO ’14, received a $10,000 scholarship prior to graduation in May 2014. She used the money to help cover moving costs to her internal medicine residency at Community Memorial Health System in Ventura, Calif. and to pay down her loans.

“I’m extremely grateful,” Bitar said. “It was very generous of him to create that fund. It helps with the increasing costs of education.”Graves Portrait

Dr. Graves’ dedication to education was instilled by his mother, who was a teacher before getting married, said his niece, Victoria Bean. Dr. Graves grew up on a farm in Texas.

“He was always around education. It was a big deal,” Bean said. “Even though they lived on a farm, they were never taken out of school at harvest time. My grandparents always put education ahead of work.”

He was interested in teaching and helping students who wanted to enter the medical field, Bean said.

“He knew education was the No. 1 thing,” she said. “It was so important to get that in students’ minds, so they could pursue their chosen field.”

Dr. Graves was drafted into the Army while attending medical school in Kansas City during World War II. He served as a medic in the Army in France and Germany under Gen. George Patton.

After returning from the war he settled in San Diego, where he practiced medicine for more than 50 years. He was a longtime member of the San Diego County Medical Society, the American Medical Association, the Board of the San Diego Zoo, and President and Chairman of the Board of the San Miguel Hospital Association. He also served as a physician for the San Diego Chargers in the 1970s.

“He had a charmed life. The people in California embraced him,” Bean said. “He was a people person. He was a person who absolutely chose the right profession.”

Graves on a horseDr. Graves loved to ride horses into his 90s. He lived in El Cajon where the houses in the area had a common stable in the neighborhood. He used to ride in rodeos and was a bull rider, Bean said.

“He was a cowboy doctor. He was a tough guy,” she said. “He was able to make something out of nothing. He was a self-made man.”

Dr. Graves also believed in karma, that whatever you did came back to you.

“He always tried to do good,” Bean said. “He always tried to help other people.”

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