Human Interest


You’ve undoubtedly heard the saying, “you can take the boy out of the farm, but you can’t take the farm out of the boy!” That phrase certainly fits Dr. BD. Why does a guy who graduates from medical school and has a very busy practice also operate a farm and board horses and mules? It’s because he loves animals, the farm atmosphere, and rural life. Growing up on a farm in western Indiana, he learned to raise lambs and piglets in a bushel basket and feed them through a nipple attached to a 32-ounce whisky bottle filled with cow’s milk. His compassion for animals began early in life and continues to this day.  

The thought of going to medical school was “an impossible dream,” but because he was counseled well by his family doctor and influenced by college coaches and professors, he decided to try it. While taking a course in Animal Biology, his professor, Dr. William Morgan, noticed his talent and hired him as an assistant in his lab. The last day of class, Dr. Morgan called him to his office to talk. He asked BD what he planned to do with his life, and suggested he consider medicine instead of law school or majoring in history. Dr. Morgan had the ability to see medical aptitude in students and had successfully directed many young adults into health care careers. 

He applied to I.U. Medical School, was accepted, and graduated in 1969. He interned at Methodist Hospital for one year, then began an Orthopedic Surgery residency at I.U. For a number of reasons, he was not happy in Orthopedics. Call was every-other-night and every-other-weekend, and the department chairman made it “a miserable and disappointing year.” The next eighteen months were spent as a Family Medicine resident at Methodist Hospital due to a Berry Plan deferment. Here he found his true calling.

In December, 1972, his residency ended and assignment to the U.S. Army began. He was sent to Womack Army Hospital at Fort Bragg, NC, where he was asked to start a Family Medicine residency. He wrote the application letters to the AMA, designed the Family Practice clinic, and organized the training schedule. At the end of his time in the Army, the program had recruited 18 residents and was the most popular clinic at the hospital.  

In January, 1975, his military obligation completed, he joined two other Family Physicians in a practice on the south side of Indianapolis. While at Ft. Bragg, he had been recruited by the Dean of the University of North Carolina Medical School to join the faculty of the Family Medicine Department, but decided to practice in Indiana instead. His two partners were delighted he chose to join them. He maintained his interest in medical education for 36 years by serving as a clinical instructor and inpatient attending physician for the St. Francis Family Medicine residency program.

However, his farming interest never died despite living in a suburban neighborhood. He wanted his children exposed to the same environment he had growing up, so in 1978, he bought 112 acres of farm land near Beanblossom, Indiana. He still owns that land and share-crops it with a Morgan County farmer. On 40 acres, he grows soybeans and corn, and on the 20-acre pasture, he raises a small herd of beef cows. The rest is wooded. 

In 1982, he bought 30 acres of farmland in Johnson County, on which he later built his permanent home and barn. He share-cropped with a local farmer and raised soybeans, corn, and beef cows. To spark his children’s interest in 4-H and to learn to bond with farm animals, he purchased two quarter horses. 

As a child, he was exposed to mules and draft horses, but a mule ride to the bottom of the Grand Canyon really ignited his interest. In October, 1992, he and 3 friends drove to Gallatin, Tennessee, trailer in-tow, to buy a mule from Reece Brother’s Mule Company. Reece Bros. has supplied over 400 mules to the Grand Canyon stables. After hours of “the toughest mule trading I have ever endured,” he and the Reece’s came to terms. His new mule was named “Southern Belle.” He still boards his mules and horses. Civilization has crept slowly in his direction to where now his land is surrounded on three sides by housing developments. 

He’s “been to the bottom of the Grand Canyon six times—3 times hiking, and 3 times on the back of a mule.” The last time was in 1999. He “organized ten Indiana mule-riding friends to trailer their mules to Arizona.” They rode in Wickenburg, AZ, Oak Creek Canyon, and finally at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. “We were the only private stock to enter the canyon that year.” The park rangers welcomed them enthusiastically and allowed them keep their mules in a large corral behind the mule barn until the ride began. Park rangers also took bales of hay to the bottom of the canyon for the mules to eat. They spent two nights at Phantom Ranch and called it “The trip of a lifetime.”

He has trailered his mules to Teton National Park, the Superstition Mountains east of Phoenix, Arizona, and to many trails in the Midwest. I find this “hobby” quite unique among physicians. 

A lifelong love of open-wheel auto racing has resulted in another unique hobby. He closely followed the racing careers of AJ Foyt and Parnelli Jones. In 2008, he decided to build replicas of famous race cars and chose two cars driven by Jones. The first was the “Fike Plumbing Special” sprint car Jones made famous in 1960. The second was the “ol Calhoun,” the winner of the 1963 Indianapolis 500 also driven by Parnelli. As a result of building these two cars, he has become a close friend of Parnelli Jones, and Parnelli has driven both cars. Dr. BD has driven both cars himself in exhibitions throughout the country—The Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the Milwaukee Mile, Phoenix International, Pocono, Road America, and Gateway Speedway to name a few! 

His life hasn’t been all fluff! In 1975, after starting practice, he began teaching Family Medicine residents at St. Francis Hospital. His participation in this program continued for 36 years. He served on many hospital committees and was involved with the Indianapolis Medical Society for decades. I’ve said many times, when comparing Dr. BD to the Dos Equis’ “most interesting man in the world,” BD wins hands down. I mean it! Riding and boarding mules and horses, practicing medicine, building replica race cars, driving them in exhibitions, teaching family medicine residents, playing golf, and doing who knows what else, qualifies him as the most interesting man I know!

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