Healthcare Highlights: Charles Stroup, MD

Saying farewell to an old friend

Charles Stroup, MD, has served the Gaffney community as a physician for more 39 years. As he retires, he shares his memories on the community, his love of medicine and advice for the community.

What made you want to become a doctor?

I wish I could say that from an early age a strong sense of altruism compelled me to practice medicine and help others. The real answer lies elsewhere. When I was in the first grade, my teacher went around the class and asked every child what they wanted to be when they grew up. We had the requisite number of firemen and policemen, but when it came my turn I told her that I was going to be a doctor.  She asked me why and I said, “Because my daddy told me so.” It was his dream, and I didn’t want to disappoint him. As time passed, it became mine as well.

What made you choose family medicine as your specialty?

I never thought I had the technical skills to be a surgeon. I did have other opportunities to consider. When I was in medical school, the Chairman of the Department of Psychiatry called me into his office one afternoon and offered me a residency in Psychiatry at MUSC, because he thought I “had what it takes.” I never varied in my desire to return to Gaffney, and family medicine was the real need.  Had I not chosen family medicine, I would’ve chosen internal medicine.

In your 39 years as a physician in Gaffney, what is an anecdote  that you most remember?

I could tell you a hundred because I’ve written them down so I wouldn’t forget.  I think one of the funniest goes like this. One afternoon a man came in to see me.  His wife was with him. His face was cherry red – like the worst sunburn you’d ever seen. I asked him what happened and his wife interrupted and answered for him.  She said, “He’s so stupid.” I asked her what she meant, and she told me that he was working under the sink and thought he smelled gas, so he lit a match to see where it was coming from.

Do you have any health advice you would like to share with the community? 

I think most of us go to the doctor to feel better and prolong our lives. We also want to enjoy good health while we live longer. You can’t expect this to happen by just taking another pill. You’ve got to make a commitment to what I call therapeutic lifestyle changes. All of us need to eat healthier and get regular physical exercise.

What are some of the most important life lessons you’ve learned from practicing medicine?

I’ve learned that what might seem trivial to me might not be so trivial to someone else. When people explain their concerns, you need to understand them from their point of view. 

What will you miss most about medicine?

Over the last couple of months, I’ve been saying my goodbyes to a lot of people. What touches me more than anything else are the people who’ve expressed their sadness about my retiring. Over time, I’ve laughed with all of them, and I’ve cried with some of them. But what I’ll miss most are those bonds of friendship and trust that we’ve built over 39 years.

As you leave, what do you want to share with the community?

I wish I could thank everyone individually, but I know that’s not possible, so I guess all I can say is thank you for letting me be a part of your lives. I’m not going anywhere, so if you see me out somewhere and want to tell me about your blood pressure, I’m still interested.

What will you do in your retirement? 

In 39 and a half years of practice I’ve never taken a whole week off, so I guess I’m finally due a vacation. I plan to work on my golf game and make my back yard beautiful. People have asked me if I plan to travel – yes, there are places I’d still like to see.

Please join us in celebrating Dr. Stroup’s career on Thursday, Dec. 15, from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. at 722 Hyatt Street, Suite C. in Gaffney.