Longtime Evangelical doctor to be celebrated at Saturday service

John W. Arbogast Jr. ushered thousands of lives into this world and on Saturday, friends and loved ones will bid farewell to the late doctor during a Celebration of Life reception at the Bucknell Golf Club.

More than 6,000 babies were delivered by Arbogast between 1963 and 1993.

Arbogast lived 93 years and developed a reputation marked by kindness and professionalism in his 40-year career as a specialist in obstetrics and gynecology at Evangelical Community Hospital.

His Celebration of Life will be from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. Saturday at 366 Smoketown Road, Lewisburg.

Gini Kessler and her husband, the late Fred Kessler, became close friends with Arbogast and his wife, the late Dorothy Mae. Kessler guessed she’d been friends with the doctor for more than 50 years.

The couples vacationed together in the Chesapeake Bay, played as a foursome at the Bucknell Golf Club and spent nights dining out. Kessler recalled Arbogast often excusing himself to mingle with diners at surrounding tables: talking, laughing, listening.

“By the time the evening would be over, he would know everyone at the surrounding tables,” Kessler said. “We always felt we had more people in our dinner party than there really were.”

“I’ve lost my husband within the past year and now John,” Kessler said, also noting “Dottie” Arbogast’s death in 2014. “A big chapter in my life is now gone. I’m the last leaf on the tree, as some say.”

Arbogast graduated from Bucknell University and earned a medical degree from Temple University Medical School where he later served his residency. Before opening his own practice, he served in the U.S. Navy during the Korean War as a physician aboard military sea transport vessels.

Returning stateside after his service ended, Arbogast first opened a private practice in Burlington, N.J. for three years before returning to Lewisburg in 1960 — opening a private practice in Milton then Lewisburg, from which he retired in 2000.

His father, Dr. John W. Arbogast Sr., was one of the three original founding physicians of the Evangelical Community Hospital as a facility within the Evangelical Home. Arbogast made a name for himself in the hospital his dad helped create and in 1982, he served as the institution's top medical officer.

“We all called him ‘Doc,’” said his son-in-law, Fred Scheller, publisher of The Daily Item.

Scheller married the Arbogasts’ daughter, Joanne, 11 years ago. She’s one of the couple’s three children.

Arbogast’s reputation was one that drew smiles whenever an acquaintance or stranger to Scheller learned he was the man’s son-in-law, he said. He was quite a golfer, too, Scheller said, recalling Arbogast playing beyond the age of 90 and now and again shooting better than his advanced age.

An avid baseball fan, Scheller remembered Arbogast building his day’s schedule around that of the Philadelphia Phillies. In his final days, Arbogast continued to watch every game, Scheller said.

He was a churchgoer, too, Scheller said. When he couldn’t make it, Scheller said Arbogast tuned in on the radio.

“His personality, everybody just loved him. He had a great bedside manner and was really popular,” Scheller said. “I feel like I got to the party late. It’s a shame I didn’t get to know him when he was a lot younger.”

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