I thought I would wait and see what some of you wrote before I submitted an account of my past 50 years...I have to admit, I am most impressed with what many of you became and the experiences you have had over these years... and it has been so much fun reconnecting with many of you by phone...I am hoping to be able to call and/or email everyone on our list over the next month...those of you I have already reached, please forgive me if the conversations were too short, but we had a big class and I have a long way to go! Most of you will remember me as the scrawniest, shortest member of our class...over-sized horn-rimmed glasses on a small face... a classical nerd!!
After high school, I matriculated at Duke University in Durham, NC, pre-med... I remember the first auditorium convocation... our freshman Dean told us to "look to the student to your right, now to the one on your left... neither of them will be there at the end of the year." Little did we know how correct he was!!... almost two thirds were gone my sophomore year. I have no idea how I survived, but somehow did... and also played first trumpet in the Duke Marching Band all 4 years and for 2 more years while I was at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in medical school... my best friend at Duke decided to go to Carolina, so I did as well. If you have never visited the Duke and UNC campuses, it is sure worth the trip. I thought I wanted to be a thoracic surgeon and was given a fellowship grant to study in Aarhus, Denmark with Dr. Ole K. Albrechten who was beginning Denmark's heart transplant program... I spent 1968 there and loved Denmark(especially the chicks!), but learned I did NOT want to be a thoracic surgeon!!
After graduating from Carolina, I was a straight surgery intern at Emory University-Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta... I only had my clothes and books so I lived on the 17th floor of the Hospital as we worked all day and were on call every other night working in the Hospital... so, there really was no need to find a place outside the Hospital... I couldn't afford anything anyway! My hair was super long and I had a great mustache! As the year was coming to a close, 16 out of 18 of my fellow surgery interns had been drafted into the Army.. .my best friend and I were the only two left and we both wanted to be in the Marines. So, we walked to the downtown recruiting station and joined the Navy requesting the Flight Surgeon class in Pensacola, FL... over the next 7 months I learned about anything physically and psychologically that can affect a Top Gun and learned to fly. I received my wings on December 16, 1971 and volunteered for the Marines. I was sent to Paris Island, SC for physical training and then to Camp Pendleton, CA for jungle survival school. My first leave home in March, 1972, my parents didn't recognize me... my neck was a third wider and I had picked up 50# of muscle! I wore my dress whites at our SHS 10th year reunion and I don't think anyone knew who I was... they just remembered my date!
I was sent to Vietnam in April, 1972 and for the next 13 months did search and rescue of wounded marines with Marine Helicopter Squadron-164. Think what you will about the Vietnam war, but I can only say the men I encountered from all walks of life were the finest group of individuals I have ever known. I considered myself well versed in trauma from the "knife and gun club" of Atlanta, but I had never before seen injuries of this magnitude in young, healthy men. I shall carry the memories of these poor individuals with me for the rest of my life... my Marine pilots, crew and corpsmen remain like brothers to me to this day... I can't tell you how many times they saved my butt through just plain bravery...we meet every 2 years alternating from coast to coast... like Forest, that's all I have to say about that!!
I returned home to El Toro Marine Corps Base in Santa Ana, CA at least physically intact...I spent 6 months doing absolutely nothing... trying to become accustomed to women with round rather than slanted eyes and eating food that didn't have some combination of rice. I met my future wife, Vicki Joanne Moore, from Huntington Beach, CA.
I knew by then I wanted to be a urologist and, miraculously, I was selected for a position at the University of South Florida-Tampa General Hospital... my Father was ill and I wanted to be close to home. Vicki accompanied me to Florida and we married on October 11, 1975, my second year of urology residency. Unfortunately, my Father died May 23, 1978, just one month before I graduated as a urologist. Vicki was almost 9 months pregnant when we flew from Tampa to Laguna Beach, CA to begin my practice. My daughter, Summer Kathleen, was born on July 9, 1978. My son, Jimmy, was born January 22, 1980. I practiced solo urology from San Clemente to Newport Beach over the next 16 years.
Unfortunately, I could not keep my marriage together and my wife and I separated in 1992 and divorced in 1995. I took a position in a small town, Louisburg, NC, and practiced there as the only urologist for 30 miles until I thought I was going to retire in 1999. My Mother was not well and I moved back to Sarasota to assist with her daily care. Soon, urologist colleagues that knew me throughout my career began calling me to assist them temporarily in their practices... what is called in medicine as "locum tenems." I took a few of these positions as they allowed me to be away from home for one to two weeks and still care for my Mom. She passed away on April 7, 2010 at age 99+, debilitated, but always lucent to the end. Janet Whitman Bradley, our high school physics teacher, came to her wake. I had no idea that, over the years, she had been coming to my parents' store following my progress in life!... What a lady!!
So now I have been working and teaching in Ohio and will be moving to Palm Springs, CA to be closer to my children and relatively new granddaughter, Callie Joanne. I will be a solo full time urologist once again at the tender age of 67+. Go figure!
I have come awfully close to remarrying over the past 16 years, but, somehow, continue to escape. I have lost 2 older brothers, George (SHS 47) and Jimmy( SHS 49) and my sister, Margaret (SHS 51). My sister, Rosalie (SHS 57), still lives in Sarasota. Yes, I've climbed a few mountains in 50 years... some glamorous, some tragic... I've stumbled around...had some triumphs and many defeats...a nd met some remarkable individuals along the way... many were in the SHS class of 61!
I look forward to seeing all of you soon!!
P.S. The pics are of my only grandchild... so far...and of my new Vicki (yes, blond like my former wife, same spelling, also a southpaw and my exact birthday... and her deceased husband has my former wife's birthday!!... is someone trying to tell me something?