Dr. Fletcher L. Gamble was a brilliant and exceptional man. Since childhood, he always stood out among his peers. He was born in Fayetteville, NC, on December 3, 1961, to parents Shirley Gamble and Fletcher Brown. From early childhood he always had a thirst for knowledge. In an interview by the Fayetteville Observer-Times, Dr. Gamble stated “When I was in the third grade, my teacher gave me an old set of encyclopedias, and they were so heavy that it took me a week to take them home.” While attending Washington Drive Junior High School, he was awarded an academic scholarship to attend the Asheville School. The Asheville School is a prestigious private boarding school, located in Asheville, NC, and currently ranked 7th among the best boarding schools in the nation.
After graduating the Asheville School in 1980, he earned a full academic scholarship to attend the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to major in biology. He would work odd jobs for personal spending money to cover what the scholarship did not. Dr. Gamble graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Biology on May 13, 1984, becoming the first in his family to earn an undergraduate degree. After completing undergraduate studies, he was admitted to the UNC School of Medicine on another full academic scholarship to pursue his dream of becoming a pediatrician. Dr. Gamble is an example that academic excellence and intelligence can open many doors.
It was Dr. Gamble’s goal to use his education and medical degree to give back to his African American community. His mother and stepfather divorced while he was in college, which resulted in his mother and younger siblings moving to a Fayetteville housing project called Grove View Terrace. Whenever he visited family during school breaks and summers, he observed many challenges in the community. In an interview by Fayetteville’s local newspaper, he stated “There are many children here in Grove View Terrace that are sick and in need of medical assistance, but they don’t get it because of ignorance. One of my goals down the road is to be able to spend one day a week or a month visiting a place like this, treating the children and educating the parents. It would be something free, a way for me to help. I figured out quick that I could better help other people if I went into medicine. It doesn’t take much time in a housing project to see there is a great need.”
Dr. Gamble graduated from UNC School of Medicine on May 14, 1989, again becoming the first in his family to earn a graduate degree. Dr. Gamble chose to pursue his pediatric internship and fellowship at King- Drew Medical Center in Los Angeles, California. He served at this facility from June of 1989 to March of 1994. The hospital is an inner-city facility that served many poor African American and Latino American patients, many who don’t speak English. “I wanted to work there, because I like the idea of helping people who need help. When I was in that boarding school, I saw many students who took having a doctor around for granted,” Gamble said. When the internship was complete, Dr. Gamble joined the staff of Newton Pediatrics in Covington, Georgia (GA) and in March of 1996 he became a member of the pediatric staff of Kaiser Permanente, in Atlanta GA. He worked there until his death on May 15, 1997.
The Fletcher L. Gamble scholarship was established by Glen Fisher to honor his uncle Dr. Fletcher L. Gamble, provide financial assistance to African American young men with tuition fees and support Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU).