Opinion

WALLY'S WORLD: Plateau physician posted healthy career

By Wally DuChateau

During the course of my bumbling life, I’ve only had contact with four medical doctors. When I was a little kid, Dr. Asmundson was our family physician, but I don’t remember much about him. During my college years, I shared a few drinks with Dr. Adams in the Lee Lounge and I was best man at his daughter’s wedding yet, despite such social connections, I didn’t really know him very well, either. He never treated me for anything. A third practitioner, Dr. Terry, gave me one routine physical exam. I thought he might be my doctor for a few years, but he abruptly died at a comparatively young age. (I’m reminded of the old George Burns joke: “Five different doctors have told me to stop smoking, but they’re all dead.”)

And finally, there’s Dr. James Clark. I’ve been going to him for yearly physicals and a few other odds and ends for the last 20 years, so I sort of consider him, at last, to be my doctor. As you can gather, that’s almost by default since he’s really the only physician I’ve ever gone to. He’s a very personable, easy-going, quick-witted gentleman who always seems glad to see me.

Unfortunately, our professional relationship is about to end. After 34 years of service to Enumclaw and the surrounding Plateau, Dr. Clark will retire in three days.

He’s not a newcomer to our mossy corner of the world. He was born and raised in and around Bellevue and attended the University of Washington Medical School.

Very few students ever attend the UDub without venturing into the Blue Moon Tavern at least once or twice. Clark was no exception. It’s rather ironic to realize that our paths might have crossed in that despicable little, revolutionary dive long before we ever met in the local clinic.

While attending the university, he met a charming young lady who was a lab technician. They wed in 1974. Their marriage produced a son and daughter, both of whom have left our region; one resides in Alaska and the other in Colorado.

Clark lives within a few blocks of my funny, little house. I sometimes see him pedaling his bike around the neighborhood. It’s a sport he pursues quite diligently and he has participated in the Cascade Bicycle Club’s annual Seattle to Portland ride 17 times. (Talk about strenuous exercise!)

So, the other day we sat down over coffee in his comfortable living room. Needless to say, it was a rather nostalgic afternoon, as he mused about his life and memorable experiences in the clinic. There were many critical, life-and-death situations during which patients would arrive at the facility while they were having a stroke or in cardiac arrest. But there were humorous incidents as well. A few months ago, a lady stepped on the gas instead of the brake and drove over some bushes, through a wooden railing and stopped just short of plowing into the clinic walls and Clark’s office.

I stopped by for my routine physical last week. He told me to watch my blood pressure, get plenty of exercise and generally gave me a clean bill of health. I left the clinic feeling happy and refreshed, carrying half a suitcase of Viagra.

In the immediate future, Clark and his wife plan to spend a few months with their children. After that they’ll do some traveling. They have no plans to move away from our region.

Clark wishes to extend his sincere thanks for all the trust and support he’s received from local folks. It’s been his honor and joy to watch the numerous families mature over the years.

And on behalf of our entire community, let me take this opportunity to express our gratitude for all the diligent work and heartfelt concern he showed every individual who ever sat on the gurney in one of those sterilized cubicles. May retirement bring him all the happiness and fulfillment he deserves.

Aloha, Godspeed, and cheers!

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