Doctor retires

Dr. Walter Anglemeyer with his wife Betty.

NAPPANEE, Ind. — Recently retired Nappanee physician Walter Anglemeyer is reluctant to talk about himself.

He’s quick to point out how the love and support of his wife of 54 years helped him succeed.

“When you are building a practice, you are working from 8 a.m. to midnight,” he said of his early years as a doctor. “Betty was always there for me and always there for the kids.”

He also talks about the importance of the talent and professionalism of his long-time support staff.

“A lot of times you are just as good as your front office and nurse,” he said, speaking of office staffer Pat Blocher and nurse Ruby Farmwald. “They mean a lot to me and added a lot to the practice.”

But the people he appreciates are quick to point right back at him.

“He is so loved,” said his wife, Betty, of his place in the community.

Farmwald retired last year as Anglemeyer’s nurse. Anglemeyer describes her a “jewel” — someone personable and hard working and loved by the patients — and Farmwald thinks just as highly of him.

“I worked for him almost 30 years and never heard him raise his voice,” Farmwald said. “He was calm and cool no matter what the circumstances.”

She said Anglemeyer’s “bottom line wasn’t the doctor, it was the patient that mattered to him.”

She said the doctor gave his patients all the time they needed, never rushing them out of the office for the next one in line.

“That’s the key to his success. He built his practice on caring for the total person,” Farmwald said.

Anglemeyer retired this month, ending a 46-year career as a family physician that started with his internship at South Bend Osteopathic Hospital.

Anglemeyer, a native of Elwood, attended Ball State University, where he met his wife of 54 years.

After graduating in 1950, he took a job teaching at Wilson Junior High School in Muncie. After teaching, he worked at Pfizer drug company for three years.

His teaching specialty was in natural sciences, so he already had his pre-med courses under his belt when he decided to attend medical school in 1954. After graduating in 1958, he interned at the South Bend hospital until 1959.

The drive from Elwood to South Bend would take him through the small town of Nappanee.

“I always thought, ‘gee, what a nice little town,” Anglemeyer said.

When Dr. Enton, then on the medical staff of the hospital, needed help in his practice on Lincoln Street in Nappanee, Anglemeyer joined him as a partner.

He stayed with that office for six years, before starting his own practice, where he remained until his eldest son, Walter, joined him in practice. The couple’s fourth child, Andy, is also a physician. Daughter Anne is a teacher and homemaker who homeschools her children, Susan is a physician’s assistant, and youngest child Matthew is a lawyer with the public defender’s office in Indianapolis.

Over the years, Anglemeyer outgrew five offices before setting up shop in the now 2-year-old Anglemeyer Clinic, a member of PrimeCare Physicians of Goshen Health System, on C.R. 7 in Nappanee.

Before his retirement, the practice had six family physicians: Anglemeyer and his son, Lisa Orn, David Coil, Fred Schlorke and Kendell Stephens.

The Anglemeyer clinic “does a lot of things many family practices don’t do,” he said.

The clinic serves a lot of Amish patients, who “like to stay out of the hospital if they can,” he said, so it offers X-rays, minor surgery, colonoscopies and other screenings and — Anglemeyer’s favorite — obstetrics.

“Each delivery was a miracle,” he said.

He doesn’t know how many babies he has delivered, but he was averaging about 50 babies a year for many years.

Anglemeyer also enjoyed having the next generation of doctors at the clinic — there were always hospital residents and interns in the office learning from the physicians.

“It keeps you on your toes,” he said. “It makes you sharper. If they ask why you do something a certain way, you can’t just say “because we always have.”

He has seen many changes in the practice of medicine over the years, some good and some bad.

When he first started practicing medicine, doctors “could do anything they felt qualified to do.”

With his surgeon’s license, if that included brain surgery, so be it, he joked.

“Now family practices are more limited in scope,” and there are many more specialties, he said.

He also remembers the time when a kidney was the only organ transplanted “and they didn’t do a lot of those.”

He and his son were involved in the first heart transplant in northern Indiana. A patient of theirs was the first recipient and Anglemeyer well remembers getting the call that a heart was available and the fast drive to Indianapolis.

House calls were also prevalent in his early practice years. Anglemeyer has worn out three house call bags during his career.

Although not the norm, he continued to make half a dozen or so house calls in recent years.

Out of the office, Anglemeyer said he “was not really active politically.” He was the Nappanee Police Department surgeon for 30 years, and offered his services for free screenings for the American Cancer Society.

He also took his turn as a physician at Wa-Nee schools athletic events and donated his time for athletic physicals at the high school.

He also took two service trips to volunteer his time in other countries.

Anglemeyer had experiences in Honduras and India that made him appreciate the practice of medicine in the United States.

Even in India, where there are good doctors and education, “the hospitals there were like the 1930s here,” he said, with no private or even semi-private rooms, just big wards.

In Honduras, he saw many sick children who had traveled many miles with their parents to see a doctor — the patients and families always dressed in their best clothes.

“That was a place I really felt needed,” he said. He remembers one small child who came to him near death who needed antibiotics.

“I know I saved that child’s life,” he said. “Here, it’s not always as dramatic as that. We don’t let our kids get that sick.”

In 1986, he was named Outstanding Osteopath in the state of Indiana. He served on many state and regional boards and foundations and is a life member of the state and national Osteopathic Associations. He also served as chief of staff of the South Bend Osteopathic Hospital.

Anglemeyer’s first venture as a retired person will be to take an extended trip to visit family with his wife.

He will be missed at his practice, according to long-time patient and friend Ken Woodcox.

“He’s a good old-fashioned country doctor with a good heart, Woodcox said. “He has compassion and is genuinely interested in his patient. He looks at the whole lifestyle, rather than just prescribing pills. He suggests something other than medicine sometimes.”

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