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By Carmen Ensinger
The city of Roodhouse will be honoring one of its most outstanding citizens and one of its longest practicing physician’s, Dr. Ludwig Dech, with the placing of a huge Memorial Rock in the park at a ceremony on Sept. 3 at 3 p.m.
Dr. Dech passed away on July 25, 2019 at the age of 92, after serving the Roodhouse and surrounding community for 43 years before his retirement at the age of 74.
Dr. Dech was born on Feb. 3, 1927 in Tschervenka, Yugoslavia and grew up in Germany. He was born into a family of doctors with his father being a doctor and several other members of his family also being in the medical profession.
He studied medicine in Graz, Austria from 1948 to 1955 where he met the love of his life, Herta Purrer. They were married in Villach, Austria in 1955.
Like so many of his medical school colleagues, he decided his future would be in America. In 1956, the couple immigrated to New York to live with family in Brooklyn. After a brief time with relatives, they embarked for Chicago where Dr. Dech was accepted to intern at West Suburban Hospital in Oak Park.
Three year later, in 1958, his destiny would become clear while taking his State Boards. A doctor from rural Illinois had recruited him as they needed another physician in their community. That doctor was from Roodhouse.
In September, 1958, Dr. Dech, his wife and their infant son arrived in Roodhouse where they would embrace their new life in rural America. He made house calls in those early years and traveled the hilly back roads to see patients, often times taking his children to keep him company.
Dr. Dech opened his first office on Sept 1, 1958. It was across the hall from Dr. Earl Walker and located above what used to be Burrus Drug Store. He then built his own office on West Lorton St. in 1964.
He also worked at White Hall Hospital. Dech recalled those early days at the hospital in an article celebrating his 30 years as a physician in Roodhouse in 1988.
“We took care of emergency cases and treated patients on home care quite a bit,” he said. “It was not the custom to go in the hospital with pneumonia, but we treated them on followups and home care. There were many home calls, sometimes as many as two dozen a day.”
One specific memory that stuck out in his mind was the time a tornado struck the White Hall area.
“I had to drive my little car on the sidewalk in order to reach a lady with a cut artery,” he said. “The streets were so full of downed trees. The lady was hemorrhaging but somehow we made it to the hospital.”
Perhaps the one thing that made Dr. Dech so special to his patients was that he was not your typical 9 to 5 doctor. Dr. Dech would often see patients after office hours if they were sick, knowing that getting sick doesn’t stick to a time schedule. His patients knew they were welcome to call him anytime and he would be more than welcome to see them.
In 2000, the State Journal Register did an article on Dech after he sold his practice to Memorial Medical Center in 1999 after being in practice in Roodhouse for 41 years.
In the article, Dr. Dech stated that he estimates that he delivered more than 1,300 babies over his years in practice. In one family, figured out that, since he came to this area, he has treated six generations of that same family.
Dech, who sold the practice because he was ready to retire, refused to retire until they could find someone to replace him in Roodhouse. He would end up remaining in practice for two more years before that could be successfully accomplished.
When he was finally able to retire, he filled the next 18 years with his beloved wife, Herta, doing the things they loved to do best. They traveled, visiting every continent in their many travels. His hobbies included photography, gardening and raising orchids.
On his many visits to Germany and Austria, he became a proficient alpine skier, a hobby he shared with his wife. He also loved to hunt and fish, but most of all, he loved spending time with family and friends.
There is no doubt that Roodhouse and the entire Greene County community was blessed to have known Dr. Dech and it is only fitting that the city of Roodhouse honor the man that gave so much of his time and talents to the community that he called home for so many years.