Hero of the Month

Dr. Joshua Camblos

Stuart Camblos, the daughter of the late Dr. Joshua Camblos, knows her childhood growing up in Asheville in the 1950s and ‘60s was special.

“We always had some place to go on the weekends,” Stuart said. “When everyone else was at swimming pool and their fathers were playing golf, we were off at a cabin in the woods, being taught how to walk quietly, identify deer or bear tracks, and listen to the birds.”

Dr. Camblos served on the Friends of the WNC Nature Center’s board of directors in the 1990s, and brought with him a wealth of knowledge and a lifelong passion for the natural world.

“We felt so fortunate to have him,” said Jeanne Cummings, a long time supporter of the Nature Center. “He stayed with us. It was a very rocky road when the Nature Center started, as you can imagine.”

Stuart Camblos said her father’s love for “anything with fur or feathers” began as a child growing up in Big Stone Gap, Virginia. His interest began with the region’s native birds. He would spend his time searching out bird nests, climbing trees, carefully collecting the delicate eggs, and meticulously recording his findings.

“He got a sample of every single bird that was indigenous to southwestern Virginia,” said Stuart. “From the eagle all the way down to the hummingbird.”

Dr. Camblos’ collection was so important that it now resides in the Smithsonian.

More impressive in her childhood memories, however, is the rattlesnake collection Dr. Camblos kept in the family’s backyard.

“He would go hiking up into the mountains gathering timber rattlers to develop an anti-venom,” Stuart recalls. “I remember him teaching us how to milk a rattlesnake.”

“Daddy was just a naturalist,” Stuart explained. “And Momma was a good sport!”

Jeanne Cummings remembers Dr. Camblos especially for being the first person she met in Asheville. His warm, welcoming demeanor extended to his practice as a surgeon, as well. One of his patients even gifted Dr. Camblos a 60-acre farm in Fairview after a surgery.

“That farm is one of my children’s happiest memories,” Stuart said. “We picked apples out there, and made honey. Daddy planted a huge garden and taught them how all the vegetables and fruits grew.”

Stuart sees similar revelations occurring for those who visit the Nature Center today.

“I know there are some young children today who don’t know what some of these wonderful creatures are,” she said.

She’s glad that the Center her father helped develop remains a place where children continue to learn and marvel at the natural world, just as her father taught her to do, all those years ago on their weekends out in the woods.

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