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By Carmen Ensinger
Friday afternoon, Sept. 3, more than 50 friends, relatives and former patients of the late Dr. Ludwig Dech gathered on the square for the unveiling of a huge memorial stone embedded with a plaque in honor of the man who devoted his entire career to serving the people of Roodhouse with his extensive medical knowledge.
“Myself and the City Council would like to thank you all for coming to this great event as Roodhouse and all the surrounding area pay tribute to Dr. Ludwig Dech and his family,” Roodhouse Mayor Tommy Martin said. “Dr. was not only a great medicine man, but a great friend as well.”
Dr. Dech came to Roodhouse in 1958 and Martin remembers Roodhouse as a much different town compared to today.
“As a child, I can remember Roodhouse having at least five grocery stores, five barbers, seven churches, seven taverns, and, believe it or not, three doctors, one of them being Dr. Dech,” he said. “You had to really want to see a doctor bad as they all had their office up huge flights of stairs or put in for a house call.”
The idea for the memorial came from Alderman Charlie Huffines more than two years ago.
“I am very pleased that this day has finally arrived,” Huffines told the crowd. “There have been times when I thought that this day would never get here because of the pandemic and everything.”
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.
Soon after his passing, Huffines noticed something at one of his own doctor’s appointments.
“I had a doctor’s appointment at the clinic in Greenfield and while I was waiting to see the doctor I noticed they had a plaque inside there for a doctor who had worked there,” Huffines said. “Then, I was sent to the hospital in Carrollton and I saw two streets named after doctors and I came back to our council and said to them, ‘I don’t know who those guys are, but if they deserve acknowledgement like that, then we need to do something for Dr. Dech and we need to get busy.’”
So, the council started a discussion on how they could honor the man who had, it was estimated, delivered as many as 1,300 babies before the White Hall Hospital closed it’s doors.
“We looked into an honorary street name on the street where he lived for awhile or where the office was on Lorton Street, but that just didn’t seem like enough of a tribute for him,” Huffines said. “Then, we decided that since there are so many other monuments in this park, that we would do a monument for him.”
They approached Dr. Dech’s wife about the idea and she was thrilled that they wanted to recognize her husband.
“I saw Charlie (Huffines) and Beth (wife) and they told me what the council wanted to do and I started crying because I was so emotional,” she said. “Then, of course, we couldn’t do anything with it for two years with the pandemic and stuff. But now, it is done and I think it is just wonderful.”
Some might wonder why the city didn’t wait a week and do the dedication during Greene County Days when there would be a much larger crowd. Martin said there was a very good reason for doing it on Sept. 3.
“Herta wanted to do it today because today (Sept. 3) because today is their wedding anniversary,” Martin said. “Also, they moved to Roodhouse on Sept. 3 so that date holds very special significance to her.”
As for the memorial rock, Martin said Justin Daws from Daws Funeral Home found the stone in Springfield and cut it. They also did the plaque that is inserted in the stone. This plaque includes a remarkable likeness of Dr. Dech in his favorite hat etched into the stone and a brief history of Dr. Dech.
In another surprise announcement, Huffines said that going forward, the Roodhouse Square Park, which really has never had a name, while here-to-fore be called the “Dr. Ludwig Dech Memorial Park.”