Four Generations of Medical Ministry – Part 2

Dr. John Aaron Moore
1898

Dr. Berry Lee Moore Sr.
1932

Dr. Berry Lee Moore Jr.
1954

Dr. John Henry Moore
1964

Dr. James Michael Berry
1984

Dr David Lee Berry
1991

 

Our sister Marilyn graduated from high school in 1954 and went to college for her first year at Lindenwood College in St. Charles, Missouri. She transferred her second year to the University of Texas because of the friendship and influence of Mary Ann Nowlin,  a classmate at Lindenwood from Houston, Texas. It was at the University of Texas she met George Berry from Lubbock whom she dated, fell in love with and married in 1957. She tried to persuade me to attend the University of Texas, but I told her I had too much Razorback blood in my veins to do that. 🙂

George earned his doctorate in Banking and Finance and began a teaching career at Texas Tech University in Lubbock. He continued in his academic career for nine years and decided to make the transition into the business world as a financial consultant in banking. They moved initially to Midland for 9 years and ultimately moved back to Austin in 1978. He and Marilyn had 4 sons; James, John, Robert and David. Their oldest, James Michael and their youngest, David Lee decided to pursue careers in medicine, and they became the 4th generation of medical doctors from the lineage of Dr. J.A. Moore.

It was exciting for all of us concerning their decisions, and both James and David were able to spend some time in El Dorado in the summer months during their training years with both Berry Lee and me. They were able to shadow us to learn some of the practical applications of their medical training with actual patient care. They assisted me in the operating room with many surgical cases, and I encouraged both of them to consider careers in the surgical field. Both young men were not only gifted intellectually, but had excellent eye-hand coordination skills well suited for a surgical specialty.

James received his MD degree from the  University of Texas Medical Center in Houston in 1984 and decided on anesthesiology as his specialty. From the outset he has had an outstanding career in the academic and patient practice world. In addition to providing anesthesia care for countless tens of thousands, he has helped train several generations of new anesthesiologists. While in Houston one of his responsibilities was in the field of hyperbaric oxygen (HBO) therapy, and he was in charge of the huge multi-place chamber at UT Houston. During those years he encouraged me to become certified in HBO therapy; which I did, and this led to my transition into primary wound care for the last 12 years of my practice life.

James moved with his family in 2001 to Jackson, Mississippi where he became Professor and head of the Department of Anesthesia at the University of Mississippi Medical Center.It was there he began his design and subsequent construction of a revolutionary device for reclaiming exhaled anesthetic gasses. When he moved again in 2003 to Nashville, Tennessee to become Professor and head of Anesthesia at Vanderbilt University, he was able to put into practice his Dynamic Gas Scavenging System (DGSS). The previous cost to Vanderbilt University for anesthetic gas was approximately one million dollars per year, but with James’s system in place, the cost dropped to approximately one hundred thousand dollars, a 90% savings! This device is patented and now commercially available; being used in a number of hospitals nationwide.

James moved with his family back to Texas in 2018 where he is now a Professor of Anesthesiology and on the staff of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. In addition to his many other responsibilities, James has served for years on The American Board of Anesthesiology as an examiner for the oral portion of the certification process for all anesthesiologists completing their training.

David attended medical school at The University of Texas in Galveston where he graduated with as an M.D in 1991. He decided on a career in Obstetrics and Gynecology and took additional training in Maternal Fetal Medicine. He has practiced his specialty in Austin, Texas since 1997 when he founded The Austin Perinatal Associates. The specialty also know as High Risk Obstetrics treats expectant mothers who have had complications in the past; have illnesses such as diabetes which can lead to high morbidity and mortality rates for the newborns; and for suspected or known abnormal conditions of the fetus. David’s skills which are unique, include prenatal diagnoses, invasive diagnostic and invasive procedures of the baby while still in the uterus and critical care obstetrical procedures. Because there are less than 6 Maternal Fetal specialists in Austin the demand for his expertise is huge. The population of Austin and all of central Texas may approach close to 2 million. In his practice for over 22 years David has successfully treated many thousands of grateful mothers and safely delivered their babies under very stressful conditions.

In March, 2017 David was privileged to safely deliver the Hodges family quintuplets at Seton Hospital, and this was the first set of quints delivered in Austin since 2009 The events surrounding the labor and delivery of their babies were the subject of a documentary on The Learning Channel (TLC) aired in the fall of 2017 and entitled Hodges Half Dozen (they already had one child prior to the quintuplets). The show became a reality television series, and David was prominently featured in the first episode.

David, his wife Lisa and their family members are strong Christians in their beliefs and witness, and in July, 2018 he was ordained as a minister of their church, The Throne of Grace in Austin. They are involved in multiple ministries and outreaches in the Austin community through their church because of their personal devotion to the cause of Christ.

God gifts us all differently, and we are to use those gifts for the benefit of others and to the glory of God. I don’t consider the profession of medicine any greater nor more important than any other profession. I am honored to have had the opportunity for all my professional years to have served others with my medical and surgical skills and to have been in a family of so many physicians. Perhaps there will be yet a 5th generation of physicians in our family, but irregardless we are fully committed to loving and serving others in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ..

Dr. John

 

Four Generations of Medical Ministry – Part 1

 

Dr. John Aaron Moore
1898

Dr. Berry Lee Moore Sr.
1932

Dr. Berry Lee Moore Jr.
1954

Dr. John Henry Moore
1964

 

Dr. James Michael Berry
1984

 

Dr David Lee Berry
1991

 

I was born into a family of medical doctors. My Dad (Pop) was a second generation physician and had been in practice with his father, Dr. John Aaron Moore for 5 years prior to my birth in 1939. Granddad Moore began his practice in Union County, Arkansas in 1898 in the community of Lisbon and later moved his family to El Dorado in 1912 where he continued to practice until his death in 1943.

The small, quiet town of El Dorado, Arkansas was transformed into a boom town with the discovery of oil in 1921, and the population quickly grew from just several thousand residents to near 40,000 within a few months. The medical needs of the town grew exponentially, and Dr. J. A.’s practice responsibilities were huge. The economy during the 1920’s was booming and people were better able to pay for the medical care they needed. There was no such thing in those days as medical insurance, so everyone paid either cash for their care or bartered with their physician using such things as fresh vegetables, chickens, hogs or rabbits. No one was ever turned away from receiving medical care by Granddad Moore because of lack of money. That principle of reimbursement for medical treatment begun by Granddad was continued throughout the next 2 generations of Moore’s who served the people of South Arkansas.

Upon completion of his medical training in 1934, my Dad (Pop) joined his father in a general medical practice in which they treated every medical condition including delivering babies and doing all forms of surgical procedures. Following medical school graduation in 1932 Pop had taken 2 years of additional surgical training at Charity Hospital in New Orleans and was qualified to do most general surgical procedures in addition to orthopedic procedures. They continued their practice together through the economically depressed era of the 1930’s and the beginning of World War II. Granddad Moore had severe coronary artery disease  and died as a result of a heart attack in September, 1943. Pop continued in a solo practice through the 1940’s and 1950’s during the maturing years of my older brother Berry Lee, Jr., our sister Marilyn and me.

My brother Berry Lee (Bubba) joined Pop in a general medical practice in 1957 after he completed his internship at Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas and had served 2 years in the US Air Force at Brookley Air Force Base in Mobile, Alabama. Bubba learned the skills of a few surgical procedures such as Caesarean section, hernia repair and skin lesion removal but generally left surgical procedures to Pop and he assisted him in the OR when necessary.

Their practice location was on the second floor in the Masonic Building in downtown El Dorado on the west side of the square. Granddad was the Worshipful Master of the Masonic lodge responsible for constructing the building in the 1930’s. As a young boy visiting my Pop’s and brother’s clinic, I recall the odors of a medical office filling my nostrils upon climbing the first steps of the Masonic building. Near the end of Pop’s life in the early 1960’s plans were being made to build a new clinic on Grove Street situated between the two hospitals, Warner Brown Hospital and Union County Medical Center (now Medical Center of South Arkansas). The clinic was completed and dedicated several months following Pop’s death from heart disease in January, 1966.

I completed my surgical training at Charity Hospital in New Orleans in 1969, and was required to spend 2 years in the U.S. Air Force in Valdosta, Georgia. In 1971 Cathy and I moved to El Dorado where I joined Bubba in The Moore Clinic on Grove Street. My practice was primarily general surgical, but because I was associated with Bubba, I also did some general medicine in addition and shared night calls and weekend calls with him.

I continued in this practice model until 1974 when I joined The Surgical Clinic of South Arkansas with 3 other general surgeons. In this new setting I limited my practice to general surgery exclusively. Both Bubba and I agreed this would be a better situation in that other family practitioners would be more likely to refer their surgical patients to me. Bubba continued referring all of his surgical patients to me, and he was freed from the responsibility of assisting me in the operating room on the more complicated procedures.

In 1977 when Cathy and I had a spiritual conversion to make Jesus Christ our Savior and Lord, our lives were transformed in every respect. Bubba, who was a dynamic and witnessing Christian was instrumental in our faith conversion, and he offered to mentor me in my role as a Christian who served and ministered in the practice of medicine. This was an entirely new life and lifestyle for me because in all my prior years I had never seen a physician who ministered Christ and Christ-like attributes to his patients. For the next 22 years while living and practicing in El Dorado along-side Bubba, he poured his wisdom and encouragement into me. When we moved to Fayetteville, Arkansas in 2000 and then to Branson, Missouri in 2005 my medical practice was in wound care exclusively and no longer in general surgery. Bubba and I continued to talk regularly with each other by phone and occasional visits, and he continued mentoring me until his departure from earth on August 7, 2009. He had retired from medical practice in 2000 in order to care for his wife LaNell who had developed an illness requiring his close attention.

The 3 generations of Moore’s practicing medicine in El Dorado continued uninterrupted from 1898 to 2000, while the 4th generation of physicians in the family had begun serving and ministering in Texas beginning in the 1980’s.

— to be continued:

Dr John

 

 

“I Told You I Would Spend It!”

 

 

 

 

Insurance Policies

 

My Dad (Pop) was a very good Dad for me. He modeled for me what a family physician should be, because he really loved and cared for his patients. He practiced medicine in El Dorado, Arkansas from the mid 1930’s until his death in 1966 while enduring a number of hardships many of us will never experience.

The country was beginning to come out of The Great Depression when he started practice with his Dad, Dr. John Aaron Moore.Granddad Moore was a dedicated family doctor and modeled for his son the importance of making any sacrifice of personal comfort for the sake of his patients. He never failed to treat any patient seeking his help regardless of the time of day. No one was turned away, as is so often the case in modern medical practice. Their personalities were exactly opposite. Granddad was serious, seldom smiled and was always immaculately dressed. Even when making house calls in the middle of the night Granddad always had on his suit with a tie, and gold chained pocket watch in his vest pocket. Pop was jovial, outgoing always having a funny story to tell concerning any subject one might mention. He was also an immaculate dresser, but much more casual when making after hours house calls.

Although Granddad kept meticulous accounting books; whenever a patient was unable to pay their medical bill, it was always forgiven, and usually never mentioned to the patient. Turning a patient over to a collection agency was unthinkable for the Moore Clinic. I well remember as a young man seeing some of Pop’s patients bringing a chicken, or a bushel of tomatoes or a bunch of turnip greens in exchange for their medical bill. Pop used to jokingly say, “I would a lot rather receive turnip greens for my fee from a patient. I never have to send 35% of them to Washington!”

During our years at home my brother Berry Lee (Bubba), my sister Marilyn and I occasionally heard Pop speak about the amount of insurance he had purchased to protect us. These were policies on him which would provide monies for our education should he become disabled or die before we had completed our studies. He once said in my presence and in Marilyn’s presence, “When I get you two out of college I am going to cash in all these insurance policies and maybe make a trip to Europe! Right now I am insurance pore (poor).” He always had a funny way of telling us what he was planning, but in matters like insurance and finances, we never knew really what he had in mind. He never discussed the financial aspect of his and Mom’s life, partly because of the culture of the day. Serious family matters were never a subject of family discussion except where there was a transgression of one of the children, and this was done in private.

Even after I completed my internship and started my surgical training as a doctor. I knew nothing about the business aspect of Pop’s practice. Only after Pop died in 1966 and Bubba, Marilyn and I were going through his books did we discover the extent of Pop’s generosity and kindness toward his patients. He had between $25-30,000 of unpaid debts from his patients, and he never sent out a collection letter or ever turned anyone over to a collection agency. He simply marked their debt toward him forgiven. In today’s economy this would amount to approximately $200,000. Pop enjoyed practicing medicine and loved his patients.

During the week following Pop’s death, Bubba, Marilyn and I along with Mom had to go through his bank records and in particular his lock box at The National Bank of Commerce in El Dorado. The bank official opened the lock box then left the room for our privacy. There were multiple personal things in the box including some gold coins, a few watches and various important papers. One curious group of papers were all of his insurance policies, which on face value amounted to well over a million dollars. I first thought, “That will be more money to me than I ever imagined.” As we went through every policy, they were all cashed in, or had been borrowed against so the final value for all combined policies was no more than a few hundred dollars! They were all bound together with a large piece of twine and had a note attached. The note read, “See, I told you I was going to spend it! Love Pop”

The day Pop went to the bank to place that bunch of worthless policies with his note I know he had a big chuckle with his familiar smile on his face. I can only imagine his laugh from heaven when he saw our faces and heard us laugh at his one last promise to us.

Dr. John

PS: He never took that trip to Europe, but I sure wish he had.

 

Observing a Bris Milah (Jewish Circumcision)

Brit Mila (Bris)

As a general surgeon with 45 years experience of observing and performing thousands of operations, the most interesting, by far was as an observer at a Jewish circumcision. While stationed at Moody Air Force Base in Valdosta, Georgia as the only surgeon on the base from 1969-1971, I was responsible for all the surgical procedures done at the base. I was fresh out of surgical training at Charity Hospital in New Orleans and eager to apply my newly acquired skills where needed.

Not long after arrival the lone Internist (Internal Medicine Specialist) on the base, Dr. Steve Zaron asked if I would be interested in observing the circumcision of his new-born son. I knew the spiritual importance of circumcision for the Jews dated back to Abraham recorded in the Old Testament in Genesis 17:10-14. He was instructed to be circumcised along with all Jewish men as a covenant sign of their faith in the Lord God Almighty. According to God’s commandment all newborn males were to be circumcised on the 8th day of life.

I readily accepted Dr. Zaron’s invitation to be present at the ceremony of his son’s circumcision. Any Jewish ceremony requires 10 men of Jewish faith to be present, and since there were were not 10 Jewish men at Moody AFB, Dr. Zaron said I could stand in as a Jew despite being a Southern Baptist. I had been baptized in a Southern Baptist church as a pre-teen, but in those days Cathy and I were only occasional attenders of the First Methodist Church in Valdosta. My only requirement for attendance was to wear the Jewish skullcap, the yarmulke. After arrival of the Rabbi who performed the ceremony, he joked with me about a Baptist wearing a skullcap saying, “Don’t worry about it Doctor. We only ask for you to give $1000 to The National Jewish Appeal!” At that time in our life Cathy and I didn’t have even $100 in our savings account, so I was grateful he was only joking!

The Rabbi invited by the Zaron’s was from the Synagogue in Jacksonville, Florida which is about 90 miles from Valdosta. Because there were only 8-10 Jewish families in Valdosta at that time, most of them traveled to Jacksonville to worship and for special Jewish ceremonies. I don’t recall the Rabbi’s name, but he was elderly (approximately 75 years old), and I remember he had been in Jacksonville for nearly 50 years. The other things I remember about him were that he was forgetful of names and had a visible tremor in his hands. As I think about his physical signs now, he might have had Parkinson’s Disease. I was curious and a little concerned about his skill and ability to perform such a delicate procedure on a tiny 8 day old infant. Dr. Zaron obviously knew the Rabbi well, because he joked with him saying, “We have Dr. Moore here as a surgical observer to make sure you do the procedure correctly.” To which the Rabbi responded to me, “Don’t worry yourself Doctor. I have done thousands of these!”

A Rabbi who does circumcisions is called a mohel (pronounced “moil”), and the ceremony is called Bris Mila, or Bris. I was curious about his instruments, and before he began he showed me a beautiful cherry wood box which was velvet lined. There were 2 instruments in the box; one was a surgical C clamp, and the other was a beautiful ceremonial knife which appeared to be 14-16 inches in length and very sharp. Both appeared to be stainless steel and neither were pre-sterilized.

With some preliminary remarks by both Dr. Zaron and then the Rabbi, the 10 men gathered around the baby. Dr. Zaron sat in a comfortable chair and held his son in his arms. The Rabbi stood while preparing the baby for the procedure by cleansing him with some type of cleansing fluid. All the while he was speaking in Hebrew, none of which I could understand, but the other men who were Jewish seemed to know exactly what he was saying. I do know when he was to speak the baby’s Jewish name name, he kept forgetting the name and Dr. Zaron had to correct him. The Rabbi was not in the least perturbed by his memory lapses as if this was common for him.

As I watched over the next 5 minutes and observed the Rabbi’s shakiness and heard his memory lapses, I became more anxious that my surgical services might well be needed before this afternoon was over. The baby had been lightly sedated with a nipple which had a wine- soaked cotton ball inside, and he was perfectly happy with everything taking place. With a deftness of hand, the Rabbi then applied the C clamp across the foreskin making certain only skin was in the clamp. This was the only time the baby whimpered a little with pain. Several more statements by the Rabbi were made in Hebrew and several mentions of the baby’s name which had to be corrected. Then the Rabbi took the knife and with a very swift motion, he excised the protruding foreskin without the baby even making the slightest motion or even crying out in pain. I think I winced more than the baby!

Following a few more remarks by the Rabbi he removed the C clamp and I leaned over to look at the surgical site. To say I was shocked would be an understatement, because the result was the most perfect circumcision I have ever seen! There was not even one drop of blood and young son Zaron seemed to be as happy as he could be. I was extremely happy my surgical experience was not needed.

Following the Bris was a celebration which in addition to the men present, included the baby’s mother and wives of the men present. There was an abundance of delicious food and alcoholic beverages, none of which I drank. Young son Zaron seemed perfectly content to have his baby bottle of milk which I assumed contained no alcohol!

In considering why a Bris is done on the 8th day following birth, it is a medical fact in a newborn the amount of Vitamin K is the highest  on the 8th day and only minimally present at birth. Vitamin K is essential for blood clotting and prior to all other circumcisions usually done the day after birth, the babies are given an injection of Vitamin K. God knew injectible Vitamin K was not available in Abraham’s day.

Following this experience whenever I did a circumcision whether on a newborn or an adult, I thought about and longed for the instruments used by the Rabbi that day. For certain the procedure and methods I used were not at all similar to what I observed. I also know for certain I knew the names of my patients. 🙂

Dr. John

 

“Would The Father Please Stand Up?”


A
ny fan of Arkansas Razorback basketball will quickly recognize the name Marvin Delph as one of the greatest players to ever don a Hog uniform. Marvin is from Conway, Arkansas and became a Razorback in 1974 following an outstanding high school career with the Wampus Cats. He joined two equally famous Arkansas-born players recruited by Coach Eddie Sutton; Sidney Moncrief and Ron Brewer, and the three of them came to be known as “The Triplets.” Their playing time together became legendary and changed the entire basketball culture in Fayetteville, Arkansas from one of mediocrity to national prominence resulting in a Final Four appearance in 1978. The road to a National Championship in basketball in 1994 began with the exploits of “The Triplets” in the late 1970’s. What many may not know about Marvin Delph personally is what a strong and committed Christian he was (and is today). He could have played professionally in the NBA, but relinquished that in order to play for Athletes in Action following his college graduation.

Athletes in Action was founded in the mid 1960’s by Campus Crusade For Christ. Outstanding Christian basketball players were recruited to play world-wide, and among other things would give their Christian testimonies at half-time to packed-out crowds of young and old alike. It was an excellent means of spreading the Gospel in more unconventional ways, and gave young men like Marvin the opportunity to display their world-class basketball talent and their personal devotion to Jesus Christ. The following is a true story told by Marvin when on an occasion in El Dorado, Arkansas I was invited to have lunch with him along with Buddy Hall and my son John Aaron. This was over 20 years ago, and the details of the story are exactly as I recall;

“Whenever we played in a city which was usually on a Saturday night, we would scout out a church near our hotel in which we could worship the following morning. On this particular occasion we were playing in Madrid, Spain and the only church we could find close-by was a Catholic cathedral. The game was sold-out and we were enthusiastically received by all the Spanish fans. We stayed up late talking with fans and signing autographs, so were tired the next morning, but 5 of us walked together to attend the worship in the Catholic church. All of us were black and at 6’7″ I was the shortest man of the five attending. One of our players was 6’11”, so we stood out in a crowd just by our size alone.

As we were walking to church we all acknowledged we had never worshiped in a Catholic church, and none of us either spoke or understood Spanish. We agreed to pick out one person sitting in front of us, and when he stood, we would stand; when he knelt we would kneel and when he would sit, we would sit and be quiet and reverent. That process was working well, and we were blending in with the worship in which we understood not one word of what was being said. About half way through the worship hour, the priest was speaking when he hesitated, and the man sitting in front of us whom we were following rose to his feet. As we had been previously doing, all 5 of us stood without noticing no one else was standing. All of a sudden the entire congregation exploded in loud, boisterous laughter, and we immediately sat down. I turned red with embarrassment, and it takes a lot to make a black man turn red! The remainder of the service we remained seated regardless of what the man in front of us did.

As we were leaving the church at the conclusion, the priest was at the door and spoke to us in perfect English. He recognized we were 5 of the basketball players he had watched the night before and he thanked us for being present. I had to ask him why so many people thought it funny when we stood about half-way through the worship hour.

He said, “Oh that was very funny! I was giving church announcements, and I announced we had a new member of the church family. A little baby boy was born last night into the church family, and his mother couldn’t be here, but would the father of the boy please stand up!! It was quite a sight to have you 5 men stand in addition to the father.” We all told him we don’t speak Spanish, and didn’t understand what we were doing. He said he already knew that.”

Marvin was honored by the state of Arkansas in 1998 when he was elected into the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame. He and his wife live in Conway where they have raised their 4 children, and he is a successful businessman. He is a Christian role model, mentor and frequent public speaker sharing his testimony around the state of Arkansas. I’m certain he has told his Catholic Church experience in Spain many times.

Dr. John

 

 

The Police Raid At Aunt Tooky’s

 

Officers on the Patio

Officers on the Patio

I have written several blog stories concerning my favorite Aunt Tooky (Thelma Manne), my Mom’s older sister who lived in St. Louis; and some of the wonderful things she did for me. (Meeting Roy Rogers, Mar. 2013; The Quality Grocery Store, Mar. 2013; The Day I Met Stan the Man, Jan. 2019). I never made many trips to St. Louis during my formative years, but when I did it was an extra special treat. Aunt Tooky always made our time with her fun. In addition to her extroverted personality she lived in 2 very cool apartments with fascinating gadgets. It was at Aunt Tooky’s swanky Chase Apartment in 1949 where I saw my first television set and watched a television program for the first time. (I think the program was “Howdy Doody Time”!) No other member of my immediate or extended family owned a convertible, and I considered myself a very “cool dude” when riding around St. Louis with my Aunt Tooky in her two-door Dodge convertible. At that stage in my life I considered St. Louis, Missouri as the most wonderful city on the face of the earth! It was all because of Aunt Tooky, because now that she has departed, my view of the city has diminished considerably.

During Spring Break of my junior year at the University of Arkansas in 1960, I was home in El Dorado with a friend named “Sig” (Sigfrid Leijonhufvud) who was an exchange student from Sweden. I met Sig at the SAE Fraternity House where he was assigned by The International Student Affairs office to have noon meals each day. At the end of my junior year I was planning to make a 3 month summer trip to Europe just prior to entering medical school. I wanted to learn as much as possible about the culture and the people of Europe prior to making such a trip, and becoming friends with exchange students was a good way to accomplish such a goal.

It just so happened at the time Aunt Tooky was at our home for 2 weeks to visit Mom and her other sister (Aunt Lucille) and two brothers (Uncle Ed and Uncle Paul) who also lived in El Dorado. After meeting Sig and knowing what a kind and good young man he appeared to be, Aunt Tooky made the following offer to me, “While I am here in El Dorado, why don’t you and Sig and another one or two of your friends make the trip to St. Louis during Spring Break and stay in my apartment for a few days? Here is the key!” I was caught off guard by the invitation, and stunned she would make such an offer to a couple of college kids. I would never have thought about asking her for her apartment key, thinking that was way too presumptuous. But she did know what kind of person I was and trusted my friends were the same.

So within 2 days, Sig, Larry Mosley, Jim Weedman and I were headed to St. Louis in my ’57 Chevy with Aunt Tooky’s key to her exclusive and very elegant apartment. By this time she had moved from the Chase Apartments to a newer, larger and more modern apartment somewhere near Forrest Park. I don’t recall the apartment name, nor the address. This one had 3 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms adjoining a large family room with a marble fireplace. There was an extremely large marble bar with a well-stocked liquor cabinet in the family room. The master bedroom had massive floor to ceiling  windows and a door which opened onto a patio with a full sized swimming pool! Neither my friends nor I had every seen such a place; it looked like something out of a Hollywood movie.  We certainly never expected we would have full use of it for the 3 days left during our break from college. Another great gift from Aunt Tooky!

We arrived in St. Louis late in the day and went to some nearby restaurant for a meal; quickly returning to the apartment to relax and enjoy our new residence. We each may have had an alcoholic beverage from her bar (this was before I became a Christian), but there was certainly no rowdy behavior. We turned on her radio to play some music, but again the volume was not excessive nor intrusive. We were aware there were neighbors close by and didn’t want to disturb them. We each chose a bedroom and fell asleep around 1 or 2 AM after a long day of travel and excitement. We had no thoughts about the excitement which lay ahead.

Early in the morning just after daylight, I heard an increasingly loud tapping on the window of my bedroom overlooking the pool patio. As I fully awakened I was shocked to see at least 10 uniformed policemen on the patio looking directly at me lying in the bed. The one tapping on the window was using his service revolver and with sign language I fully understood, he ordered me to get out of bed with my hands in the air and come to the door!. I hollered to my friends to also get out of bed with their hands in the air and come to my bedroom. We were being arrested!

The officer holstered his weapon and asked with a very gruff voice, “Just what are you doing here?” He could easily see we were 4 terrified young men, and with a shaking voice and trembling knees I explained this was my aunt’s apartment, and she had loaned us the key to stay for a few days. “Can you prove what you just told me?, he asked in another gruff, unbelieving tone. “Yes sir, if you’ll allow me to make a phone call to my home in Arkansas, I’ll get Aunt Tooky on the line to explain why we’re here.” The policeman seemed to calm a bit as I was able to get her on the phone with him, and I even thought I saw a faint smile on his face when he told her how scared we looked, and the neighbors were the ones who had reported a “possible break-in”. Aunt Tooky then got on the phone with me and apologized for not alerting her neighbors we were coming, and she would call them to explain our presence.

I know the police were relieved they did not find hardened, dangerous criminals in the fancy apartment necessitating a gun battle, but instead found 4 shaken, underwear- clad college boys who were so scared they could hardly stand and talk. What an introduction to a life of luxury in St. Louis!

Dr. John

PS: The remainder of our stay in St. Louis at Aunt Tooky’s apartment was fun and void of police interference!

The Man Who Gave Me The Most Trouble

 

Ron Dunn; Evangelist

Through the years I have had the privilege of meeting and hearing some of the greatest preachers of the gospel, and I have been stirred and moved by all of them. One particular favorite evangelist is Ron Dunn whom I only met once, but have read most of his books and listened to many of his audio tapes.

Ron, who is in glory now was raised in Fort Smith, Arkansas, and in his adult years while living in the Dallas, Texas area maintained the family farm near Fort Smith. When time permitted he, his wife Kaye and their 3 children often spent vacation time on the farm, relaxing by hunting, fishing and spending quality family time together.

He surrendered to vocational ministry at a young age following his spiritual conversion at First Baptist Church Fort Smith and attended seminary at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.in the late 1950’s. He began his preaching as pastor of a number of smaller churches where he also developed administrative skills. His largest and most significant pastorate was at MacArthur Boulevard Baptist Church in Irvin, Texas where he began in 1966. It was there the church experienced a Spirit led revival in 1972 which continued until 1975 when Ron was called into vocational evangelism He continued in itinerant evangelism for the next 26 years until his untimely death from pulmonary fibrosis in 2001.

I have learned many spiritual truths from Ron Dunn although I was only in the congregation where he preached on 7 occasions. Five of those experiences were in El Dorado, Arkansas where he preached a revival meeting at First Baptist Church at just the time Dr. Mark Coppenger was leaving the church to move with his family to Indiana. On the Wednesday of that week I had a free morning from my surgical schedule, and I invited Ron to have breakfast at our home and was able to spend several hours with him discussing life situations and what it means to walk with Christ. The time spent with him that morning was both rich and rewarding. During the visit Ron told me a story  related to his formative years in Fort Smith as a young man under the spiritual influence of his pastor, Dr. J. Harold Smith. Ron had his spiritual conversion during Dr. Smith’s tenure and surrendered to the ministry and was ordained by the church while he was pastor.

Dr. Smith became pastor of the relatively large First Baptist Church of Fort Smith in the 1950’s and remained there approximately 10 years while leading the church successfully in evangelism and discipleship. At times his pastorate was marked by turmoil and dissent, because Dr. Smith was a Biblical inerrantist and the moderates in the Southern Baptist Convention in those days were strong and challenged his Biblical interpretations at every opportunity. He had the reputation of being strong in his opinions and firm in his convictions concerning the Bible and its’ relevance. His stance was affirmed by the vast majority of members of this prestigious church, but not by all of them.

On the occasion of Dr. Smith’s 5 year anniversary as pastor he made the following announcement at the Sunday morning worship service, “Tonight in keeping with my 5 years as pastor of this church I will name the man who has given me the most trouble as pastor.” Ron said he was sitting in his seat in the choir loft and was able to observe the congregation’s response to this startling announcement. He said there was stunned silence with looks of anxiety and certainly no “Amens” spoken to encourage the pastor. Everyone in the congregation knew Dr. Smith well enough to know he would keep his word in revealing the troubling culprit.

Ron said by the time the 6 PM worship service began, the church was packed with more people present than had ever attended a Sunday evening service. There were people lining the aisles in folding chairs, and some standing in the foyer in anticipation of his announcement. From his seat in the choir Ron had a perfect view of everything taking place in the auditorium that night. He said several of the deacon’s had brought their lawyers with them to hear what was to be said!

Dr. Smith said nothing concerning the matter during his spiritual message nor during the invitation hymn or the altar call. It seemed for the first time in his ministry he might have changed his mind and decided not to mention any name of the troubling man who had plagued him for 5 years. But just before closing the service he stepped back to the pulpit and made the following statement to an absolutely hushed and anxious congregation, “I told you this morning I was going to announce the name of the man who for the past 5 years of my ministry has consistently given me the most trouble here at First Baptist, and I am going to keep my word.” Ron said the auditorium was so quiet at that moment one could have heard folks breathing, but everyone was holding their breath! “The name of that man is —-J. Harold Smith!!” Ron said their was such an obvious release of anxiety in the auditorium and at least one of the deacons appeared he might faint. 🙂

What a great object lesson the folks at First Baptist Fort Smith learned from their pastor that entire day. Each of us must make certain we are not the source of any quarrelsome attitude or the driving force behind any dissension of the brothers within the body of Christ. God clearly states in His Word in Proverbs 6:16-19 there are 7 things He hates and the 7th one on the list is, “he that soweth discord among brethren.” May that never be said of me.

Dr. John

 

 

 

Just A Shadow Of His Former Self

Morbid Obesity

Over the past 25 years a serious health crisis has occurred in our country, and it has not only caused devastating damage to individuals and families, but it is preventable.Billions of dollars are spent annually in health care costs by those who are affected, while others are likewise spending billions of dollars to treat and prevent the condition. The problem is obesity and left untreated can become morbid obesity in which a person is at least 100 pounds over their ideal weight! As a nation and a culture we are simply eating ourselves to death.

During my years as a general surgeon I treated my share of patients who were morbidly obese. I confess I dreaded seeing such a patient referred to me for a surgical procedure, because the complication rates were so high and the mortality rates were also increased. I had a family practitioner who referred many patients to me for care, and he would frequently say something like this, “I have a lady who needs her gall bladder removed because of stones, and she is also suffering from acute biscuit poisoning!” It would have been funny were the patients not so prone to poor healing and infections. On one particular weekend I remember doing emergency gall bladder surgery on 3 women whose combined weights were 1100 pounds. Fortunately for my surgical team we were able to do the laparoscopic procedure on each of them, and this was physically much easier than the old-fashioned open procedure. And fortunately for the patients, each of them healed with no complications.

When I transitioned into wound care for the last 12 years of my practice life I also treated many extremely obese patients. One of the many problems of morbid obesity is chronically swollen and edematous lower extremities. This can lead to open wounds of the lower legs, particular in a diabetic patient; and again these wounds are hard to heal and prone to enlarge and become infected.

When I practiced at Washington Regional Medical Center in Fayetteville, Arkansas, one of my referring physicians was Dr. Tim Cogburn (fictitious name), an internist. His medical office was in the hospital building one floor above the Wound Care Clinic. Occasionally he would come to the clinic for a brief visit, and we would have a cup of coffee together. We became good friends, and he and his wife Darlene (fictitious) even joined our Sunday school class at University Baptist Church.

On one particular visit we were discussing a patient he had referred for treatment of a poorly healing leg ulcer. She was extremely obese, and the wound was requiring an unusually long time to heal. Tim said, “I send you quite a few of my patients with chronic wounds, and all of them are overweight. I understand all of the physical and emotional things an overweight person deals with because of my own experience. I understand the stress in an obese person whose only thoughts are about food, and the intense craving such an individual has for carbohydrates.” I didn’t comment on his remarks because Tim weighed in excess of 300 pounds. Then he made a shocking statement when he said, “I’m just a shadow of my former self. A few years ago I weighed in excess of 600 pounds!” He continued, “I knew as a physician I would not live much longer with that kind of weight so I had a stomach stapling procedure, and as a result lost over 300 pounds.”

We had a brief conversation about the benefits of surgical procedures for extreme obesity, and I asked him, “How many calories a day does a person consume to maintain a weight of over 600 pounds? Over 10,000 calories?” Tim said, “Probably so.” He continued; “Let me tell you a couple of things I did to satisfy my intense hunger pain.Our home was approximately a 20-25 minute drive from my medical office. Within a block of our home was a doughnut shop which made the most delicious doughnuts I ever had. I would stop there every morning and buy 2 dozen doughnuts, and I would eat every one of them while making the 20-25 minute drive.” . “You ate 2 dozen doughnuts every day?” I asked. “Yes sir, and then would have a snack of something sweet before lunch,” he said.I quickly calculated at 200 calories per doughnut, he was consuming 4800 calories daily in doughnuts alone!

“Another story about my food cravings is rather humorous,” he said. “Darlene and I love barbecue sandwiches, and there was a well-known barbecue cafe in town. She called one day and asked if I would stop by the cafe and bring sandwiches home for dinner. I ordered 1 Jumbo for her and 4 Jumbo’s for me and started home. The odor of the freshly made sandwiches was too much for me to resist, and before I made it home I had eaten all 5 of the Jumbo sandwiches! Darlene was so mad at me, and after an argument, I agreed the next time I brought sandwiches home, I would place them in the trunk of the car to prevent me from getting to them. That’s part of the harmful psyche of a morbidly obese individual.”

I confess I love to eat, and many of the foods I enjoy are not healthy when eaten as part of a regular diet. Fried catfish, chicken fried steak, hamburgers, French fried potatoes, cinnamon rolls, and almost any dessert dish are among my favorites. I have learned over the past few years since my intense exercise routines have diminished, eating all the foods I enjoy are a sure path to excess weight gain. Likewise when I restrict the intake of such high carbs I will lose weight. A simple formula for weight loss which I advised my surgical patients who asked is; increase your exercise program and decrease your caloric intake. It is no magic formula, but it works. Losing extra pounds and coming as close to one’s ideal weight will sure make your surgeon happy, and it might just prolong your life!

Dr. John

 

The Young’s of Fort Lauderdale

Cathy; George; Nancy – circa 1945

In the fall of 1964 when I was an intern at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia a friend named Marsha Moore arranged for me to have a “blind date” with Cathy Young, a fellow elementary teacher at her school. Marsha was married to a close friend and fellow intern Dan Moore, whom I had known since college days at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. This double date that night in Atlanta 55 years ago started Cathy and me on a beautiful and wonderful life journey and was the beginning of a life of grace together which was established in heaven.

After Cathy and I had been seriously dating for several months, I had the privilege of meeting the first member of her family from Fort Lauderdale, Florida her mother; Virginia Young. At the time Virginia was President of the Florida School Board Association, and she was in Atlanta for a national meeting of State School Board Presidents. I think the real reason she came to Atlanta was to meet the young man who had been steadily dating her younger daughter, and had gotten word we were considering engagement for marriage. The evening I met Virginia (Mom) I was just coming off ER duty at the hospital and still had on my uniform which was all white. There were a few spots of blood on my coat and pant’s leg from the day’s work, and for years afterward Mom would tell people, “When I first met John Henry in Atlanta, he had been on ER duty and was covered in blood!”

The Young’s were a pioneer family of Fort Lauderdale. Cathy’s grandfather, George W. Young came to Fort Lauderdale from northern England in the early 1900’s and began a construction business, which was the first of its’ type in the city and became one of the premier construction business’s in all of South Florida. Cathy’s Dad, George F. joined his father in the business in the 1930’s, and became known for his mastery of custom design in homes while developing skill as an expert on steel and concrete. Many of the business’s on historic Las Olas Boulevard and the Riverside Hotel as well as the Governor’s Club Hotel were built by Young Construction Company, During those busy years the company employed as many as 180 laborers.

Cathy’s Mom was an outstanding person and unsurpassed politician in Broward County. For the decades between the 1970’s and 1990’s she was the best known woman in South Florida. In addition to raising 3 outstanding children along with her husband George (Dad), Virginia (Mom) was deeply involved in the education and political life of the people of Fort Lauderdale. From her position as State School Board Chairman, she ran for and won a seat on the City Commission. For 2 separate terms she served as Mayor of Fort Lauderdale, and to this date is the only woman to hold that position. She also served 2 terms as Vice Mayor and later Mayor Pro-Tem during her service years for the city. When her time on the City Commission ended, she served on the Downtown Development Authority (DDA) for 7 years helping preserve historic landmarks and direct new business development for this booming city.

The Young’s three children, George, Nancy and Cathy were able to grow up in a beautiful ocean-side city which was safe enough for young people to play on the beach unaccompanied by adults. Neighborhoods for the most part were not dangerous, and children could play without fear of kidnapping. Walking the streets and playing in yards in the evening and into the night could be done without parental observation.

Following high school graduation Cathy and her older siblings continued their education by attending Florida State University in Tallahassee. George led the way in 1955, and pursued a degree in education leading to his PhD in 1966 with the focus on student affairs. His first and only position outside of Florida was as Dean of Students at Valdosta State University in Valdosta, Georgia, and he and his wife, Dawn moved there in 1966. By this time they had 2 small children, Jenifer and George IV. He served this growing college between the years 1966 to 1969, and was offered a similar position as Dean of Students at Broward Community College in Fort Lauderdale. This was the same year I was commissioned as a medical officer in the U. S. Air Force at Moody Air Force Base in Valdosta. Cathy and I were initially so excited to live in the same town as George and his family only to discover they had decided to move.One of George’s last good deeds in Valdosta was to locate and secure for Cathy, our young son John Aaron and me, a beautiful home which we rented for the two years we were stationed at Moody AFB.. George continued in his role as Vice President of Student Affairs until his retirement  in the early years of 2000. He was such as recognized national leader in his profession he served in 1979-1980 as President of NASPA, the National Association of Student Administrators, and was the first administrator from a community college to have been elected as President of this prestigious organization.

Nancy followed George in obtaining her degree in education at Florida State which she completed in 1961 with a BA with honors. She obtained her master’s degree from FSU in 1965, also with honors. Nancy’s first teaching position was in Sopchopee, Florida where she taught in the elementary school  She moved to Titusville, Florida on the east coast with her young son, Clay and continued teaching until she became an elementary school principal in the late 1960’s. At the urging of friends and colleagues Nancy decided on a career in law and moved with Clay in the early 1970’s to Gainesville, Florida. She got her JD degree from the University of Florida in 1977. By this time she had met and married Norman Smith from Kissimmee, Florida, and she joined Norman in his law firm of Brinson, Smith and Heller in 1977. She practiced law for over 35 years in her new firm; Brinson, Smith and Smith.

Besides her love of law, especially Family Law, Nancy was an avid bass fisherman who knew and fished all the lakes of central Florida especially Lake Toho (Tohopekaliga). She was such a recognized expert on bass fishing she had a regular column in the Kissimmee News-Gazette describing  tips on where and how to catch the largest of the large mouth bass of Florida.

George and Virginia Young (Dad and Mom) each made tremendous impacts in their time, into the lives of people in Fort Lauderdale, while raising 3 outstanding children who carried on the Young legacy. In my opinion the youngest of the Young children is the most outstanding member of a very wonderful family, and she happens to be Catherine Reta (Cathy), my wife for the past 53 years. I will admit to extreme prejudice, while at the same time am very grateful to the Lord for that “blind date” in Atlanta in 1964!

Dr. John

 

I Had A Fool For A Doctor

Self Examination In The Mirror

At first glance the title of this blog seems judgmental and unkind, and one which may cause some to think, “I would like to know the name of his doctor and avoid ever making an appointment with him!” Far from judging the qualifications of another I have recently been in the mode of self-assessment concerning my own health.

Approximately 2 1/2 years ago I was asked a simple question by a respected friend at church, “Who is your doctor?” I knew the basis for the question was my friend was searching for a family doctor and wanted my recommendation for such an individual. I jokingly said to him, “I am my own doctor and prescribe whatever I need for myself. Why just the other day I looked in the mirror, and asked my doctor how I was doing, and he said I was doing just fine, and didn’t need to return for another year.” My friend who asked the question said, ” Never mind. I’m going to get a second opinion and another recommendation!”

Despite my joking and frivolous answer I soon was to discover I had certainly been evaluating my own health without the assistance of a qualified physician. I not only had misdiagnosed a long-standing heart problem, but in failing to seek earlier help had delayed some much-needed medications and surgical interventions. I was living proof of a saying I heard years before, “A doctor who treats himself has an idiot for a patient and a fool for a doctor!”

In less than 6 months of the question from my Christian brother, I went from taking 2 prescribed medications to taking 7 separate medicines daily. By the end of the year I had undergone a triple-bypass heart procedure and was being treated for long-standing atrial fibrillation. I am still being treated for an abnormally high heart rate and have had multiple interventions including 2 cardiac ablations. A person who has had one knows what I’m discussing, and my purpose is not to describe an ablation procedure. It is a cardiology procedure done in the hospital with a 2 day-stay for the purpose of slowing the heart rate. As of this writing my heart rate is normal, and my life-style should return to the status it was over 2 years ago. I seem to have been a dumb, slow learner, but at  least now smart enough to ask for help. I have now sought the proper care from at least 4 excellent physicians.

As a physician in practice for almost 50 years I took great pride in correctly diagnosing the conditions of my patients. But when it came to my self-evaluation I was proven to be a fool and an idiot at the same time. What a recommendation!! 🙂 There is a bright side to this; however, and the application has an eternal perspective.

Every one should be in the mode of self-assessment to discern their own motives, desires, dreams and actions while submitting those thoughts and actions to the Lordship and direction of Jesus Christ. When one fails to surrender his thoughts and plans to His Creator and Savior, he is immediately on a path which will lead to failure and possible destruction. Self motivation and self direction are the results of pride and  rooted in the worldly advice which says one should “be his own man and direct his own path.” The award-winning song “I Did It My Way” made popular by Frank Sinatra in the 1970’s perfectly describes this kind of thinking and living.

Many of us have been modeled and taught self initiative from childhood. Success in life is more frequently gauged by our intellect, our profession, our net worth and our retirement plans. While there is nothing inherently evil in these parameters, they focus more on the present status with precious little view to the future, particularly our eternal future..The focus is inward instead of outward, and the goal is on self and not on others. Considering the life expectancy of the healthiest among us to be approximately 75 years, we don’t have long to try to get it right. Having already exceeded that age by several years one might assume I would have had a clearer understanding.

The journey Cathy and I have taken for the past several years has helped us focus more clearly on our relationship with each other and our plans together going forward. In past years when health was not an issue there seemed to be less urgency for planning ahead, and not enough intentionality on my part in making certain my relationship with Cathy was Christ-honoring and fresh every day. The loving and sacrificial care she gave me when I was helplessly disabled from multiple hospitalizations and surgical procedures made me see more clearly and appreciate more fully what a treasure she is to me. Nothing will highlight one’s true character more than a serious health problem.

For these and many other reasons both Cathy and I affirm the truth from Romans 8:28 which assures us God will work all things together for good for those who love God and are the called according to His purpose. I did not purpose to be foolish in treating myself medically, but the results were disastrous and almost fatal. As I finally surrendered to wise counsel, God began working it all out for our good and for His Glory. I am so thankful neither God nor Cathy have given up on me!

Dr. John