SUN VALLEY • Dr. Arthur Scott Earle, a retired surgeon who authored the new “Idaho Mountain Wildflowers:A Photographic Compendium,” died at home in Boise on Nov. 27 of a painful degenerative cancer.
Earle, who divided his time between Boise and Sun Valley, fought a seven-year battle with multiple myeloma, family members said. He was 87.
The third edition of Earle’s “Idaho Mountain Wildflowers” (Larkspur Books, $19.95), released in September and co-authored by Jane Lundin, includes almost 500 color photographs and descriptions. It’s an excellent guide to the blooms on the state’s mountain trails.
Earle — a plastic and reconstructive surgeon, medical historian, author and photographer — was a graduate of Harvard Medical School and a World War II veteran of the U.S. Army’s 10th Mountain Division, an elite division of mountaineering ski troops.
In 1959, he accepted a position at Sun Valley Hospital.
“The move allowed him to raise his family in an idyllic setting, participate in the outdoor activities that he cherished, and establish a much needed surgical practice across a wide portion of rural Idaho,” son Christopher Earle wrote in an obituary. “He loved driving to remote corners of the state to help people, often when their lives lay in the balance. His passion for providing medical help to people in need became the dominant theme of his career.”
In 1970, Scott Earle returned to residency at University Hospital in Cleveland to become a plastic and reconstructive surgeon. Later, as director of plastic surgery at Cleveland Metropolitan General Hospital, he helped pioneer microsurgical and limb salvage techniques, the obituary says. He became a professor at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and traveled on international teaching and medical missions.
Following retirement in 1992, he and his wife, Barbara, returned to Idaho, the obituary says. Despite his 2006 cancer diagnosis, Scott Earle continued to hike the mountains, photographing and cataloging mountain flowers.
Scott Earle authored numerous books and articles on subjects such as surgical history, his post-earthquake medical mission to Armenia and the Lewis and Clark expedition’s plants. But southern Idaho’s outdoors enthusiasts might know him best for “Idaho Mountain Wildflowers,” a photographic compendium whose first edition came out in 2000.
“From all over the country, because so many tourists to Sun Valley purchased that book when they were hiking and so forth, and just from everywhere, people just loved that book,” Barbara Earle said in a Tuesday telephone interview.
Frequently, people contacted Scott Earle through his website (www.larkspurbooks.com) and asked him to identify the Idaho plants they had photographed, she said.
The Earles ran out of the second edition of “Idaho Mountain Wildflowers” before the expanded third edition was released this fall.
“It was just so well received by so many people, so excited that they’d found a flower that they’d never been able to identify,” Barbara Earle said.
Scott Earle was able to keep hiking, photographing flowers, answering inquiries and working on the book after his diagnosis, she said, and the Idaho mountains sustained him.
“This was wonderful for him,” she said. “It just filled his life.”