Dr. Harry J. Warthen, Jr. was born on September 30, 1901 in Portsmouth, Virginia, while his mother was away from the family home in Richmond. He earned a degree in medicine at the University of Virginia in 1925. Upon finishing his residency at Johns Hopkins University, he settled in Richmond, Virginia where he practiced medicine until 1982. During his medical career he became the last surgeon general for the confederate veterans, the only non veteran to serve. Dr. Warthen also had been a sunday school pupil of James Power Smith who had been Stonewall Jackson's chaplain, aide de camp and who tended Jackson on his death bed.