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Memories of Dr. Ritchey

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Friends, colleagues, students, residents and patients of Dr. Ritchey have graciously shared their memories to reconstruct a picture of the man and the physician. These vignettes are a tribute to J.O. Ritchey, M.D., and his innumerable contributions to Indiana medicine.

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My fondest memory of Dr. Ritchey is his humility and sincerity in teaching his students. He totally lacked arrogance. His dedication was contagious.

 As a senior medical student in 1953, I was on the medical services. Dr. Ritchey had an elderly woman patient not responding to therapy. He felt he might be missing something in her diagnosis or therapy and turned to me. The patient was in mild congestive heart failure with probable pneumonia. I was impressed with the thought that a man with his talents could ask a “lowly” student for an opinion.

-Dr. Arthur E. Demeter, Class of 1953

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Dr. Ritchey always dressed like a doctor, always looked like a doctor, and always acted like a doctor. He always tried to present a solemn face, but his wide grin gave away his true feelings toward both patients and subordinates…Dr. Ritchey always, whether serious or smiling, always had a “twinkle” in his eye.

-Kenneth DeVoe, M.D., Class of 1947

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Dr. Ritchey epitomized the true meaning of devoting one’s life to the practice of medicine. He set a standard for those who were fortunate enough to have been associated with him, a standard we continue to try to meet throughout our professional lives.

-Donald J. Kerner, M.D., Class of 1966

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I remember the collective experience of Dr. Ritchey conducting a clinical evaluation. It started with the anticipation of his arrival carrying his worn black medical bag, his listening to the presenting symptoms and details, followed by a few insightful questions. He then proceeded with his clinical exam and evaluation. Dr. Ritchey had a humble and direct manner filled with respect for the patient through which he would ask a few questions that invariably brought forth often surprisingly pertinent details of the illness. He then followed with a summary that was brief but comprehensive. When he picked up his bag, you knew he was moving forward to his next task in the same quite, dedicated & respectful manner.

-Joseph L. Sheridan, M.D., Class of 1943

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We would start out the morning classes with Dr. Ritchey conducting a morning quiz session. He had a class roster in front of him and he would randomly call on “Mr.” or “Miss” to give an answer to his medical question. One of my fondest memories is his quizzing me in front of my class – “Mr. Wilder, what is _____?” It was performance under fire and we all dreaded those sessions with the “master”. He was very precise and would be relentless in his questioning. His bedside rounds were punctuated by further quizzing of the students but he showed his extreme tenderness and closeness to the patient and the importance of a careful physical examination in diagnosis.

-William T. Wilder, M.D., Class of 1955

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