Palo Alto Online - Lasting Memories - Gurdon Saltonstall Howe Pulford's memorial

Gurdon Saltonstall Howe Pulford
June 22, 1922-Aug. 31, 2018
Los Gatos, California

Gurdon Pulford, a Palo Alto pediatrician for more than 40 years, passed away peacefully at his daughter's home in Los Gatos on Aug. 31, 2018, with loving family by his side. He enjoyed good health until the last few months of his full and active 96 years. Gurdon was born on June 22, 1922, to Reginald and Ramona Pulford in Detroit, Michigan, where he grew up to become an outstanding swimmer and scholar. He was president of the senior class at Highland Park High School and was awarded a scholarship to Brown University. Following his graduation from Brown, he entered Medical School at the University of Michigan, where he swam on the renowned University of Michigan swim team under coach Matt Mann. During his years on the team Gurdon won 6 NCAA medals: four gold, one silver and one bronze. In 1945, Gurdon married his high school sweetheart, Florence (Atwood) Pulford. She taught school in Ann Arbor while he attended medical school until 1948 when he graduated and their first child was born. They then moved to Oakland for Gurdon's residency at Highland Hospital, and then moved again to Travis Air Force Base where Gurdon served as a Captain during the Korean War. Both Gurdon and Florence were eager to live in California ever since their first trip west in 1946 to work as camp counselors at Camp Trinity on the Bar 717 Ranch in Trinity County. They loved the ranch and it became an important part of their, and their children's and grandchildren's lives. Upon completion of Gurdon's military service in 1953, they moved to Palo Alto, where the last two of their five children were born. Gurdon joined the then small pediatric staff of the Palo Alto Medical Clinic (now Foundation) where he practiced pediatrics for over 40 years. During Gurdon's tenure at the Palo Alto Medical Clinic he also served several years as its president. Gurdon was an excellent, respected and deeply caring physician and is still fondly remembered by his patients and their families for his gentle manner and the orange plastic sand pail in which he carried his stethoscope and medical equipment. In 1963 the Pulford family moved to Los Altos Hills where they lived for over 60 years. Gurdon was an avid gardener and loved having plenty of land on which to plant a wide variety of trees and plants. Both he and Florence loved the open space of the hills and instilled the importance of nature and conservation in their children. During his retirement, he remained very active and kept up his many interests. He volunteered as a nature docent at Filoli for over 20 years and loved being a member of the backwoods "Bandana Brigade." He continued sailing, hiking, making mosaic tile artwork and swimming; in fact, he swam a half-mile a day until he was 92 years old. He had a great love of literature and continued learning and hosted academic lectures in Palo Alto for over 20 years. He even began a new series of classes after moving with his daughter to Los Gatos in 2016. The classes continued to the last week of his life and will continue on in his honor. His keen intellect was undimmed to his very last day. Gurdon was predeceased by his wife, Florence, in 1989. He is survived by children: Shelley Ries of Corvallis, OR; Gurdon Pulford of Watsonville; Marlaina Vance of Fremont; Ann Wilson of Los Gatos; and Sarah Zweng of Los Gatos; and grandchildren, Kevin, Andrew, Kristina, Charlie, Stephie and Holly. He was greatly loved and is deeply missed by all.

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Memorial service
A memorial service will be held on Saturday, Feb. 2, at 2 p.m., at First Congregational Church, 1985 Louis Road, Palo Alto.

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