Dr. John Jauregui
Dr. John Jauregui

by Robert Kehlmann

John Jauregui, a family practitioner who emerged as one of Berkeley’s most respected and beloved family practitioners during the tumultuous ‘60s and 70s, died in his home on May 3 after a long illness, according to his wife Ann. He was 79.

While Berkeley residents debated politics and experimented with LSD, marijuana, and freedoms, Dr. Jauregui coped with the less-publicized underbelly of the zeitgeist including bad trips, drug addiction, and sexually transmitted diseases. Dr. Jauregui began his life of service on graduating from medical school in 1961. He and his first wife Elizabeth Barr moved, together with their four children, to a remote village in Cambodia. There he organized and ran a clinic sponsored by Medico, a humanitarian organization co-sponsored by Tom Dooley. With only a Bunsen burner for sterilization, Dr. Jauregui said he learned how to practice medicine “by the seat of my pants.”  The effectiveness of minimal medicine and non-traditional treatment became a lasting take-away. While there, the couple adopted their fifth child, the newborn of a woman who died while trying to reach his clinic.

The family returned to the U.S. in 1962 and settled in Berkeley.  Dr. Jauregui and his first partner Stewart Kimball, soon joined by Gordon Benner, and later by Elizabeth Powell, approached medicine with a social consciousness equal to that of the students rallying for free speech and against the Vietnam War. They were among the first to treat heroin addicts with methadone, a practice discontinued when they found the drug was being resold on the streets.

After divorcing in 1970, Dr. Jauregui married Ann Trumbull Bratt, a psychotherapist and author of Epiphanies: A Psychotherapist’s Tales of Spontaneous Emotional Healing. With her two children and another of their own, the family of ten moved into a remodeled Berkeley farmhouse.

In the mid-1970s, Dr. Jauregui, then president of the Alta Bates Hospital Medical staff, joined the faculty of UC Berkeley’s Health & Medical Sciences Program. Over the ensuing years, his frustration with stifling bureaucracy mounted and in 2004 he quit medicine. The announcement, stating that his practice was no longer “what I trained for and loved,” evoked well over a thousand calls and notes pleading with him to stay on. In his post-practice years, Dr. Jauregui spent time with his family in the Sierra and in northern New Mexico.  A passionate autobiography Medicine is Not a Science, and Aging is Not an Illness remains in draft form.

Born into a poor family in the small border village of San Ysidro, California, young John didn’t get his first pair of shoes until the fifth grade.  He was proud that his Berkeley family of patients included Nobel Laureates, along with drug addicts, and the homeless.

Dr. Jauregui attended Pomona College and the University of Vienna before graduating from McGill University Medical School in 1961. He served his residency at Berkeley’s Herrick Hospital. He leaves his wife Ann Jauregui; his eight sons and daughters: Lawrence Jauregui, Jeannette Jauregui Lambert, Garrick Jauregui, Esteban Jauregui, Yura Jauregui, Christopher Bratt, Laura Bratt Anderson, Livia Jauregui; and fourteen grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held in July.

Feel free to share your messages of condolence and/or memories of John Jauregui in the comments.

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