Friday, August 06, 2010

The REAL Marcus Welby, M.D.

A few years ago, Dr. Guey C. Mark retired and closed his practice in my hometown of Stockton, California. The local paper published an article on his retirement and, as he'd been my family's doctor since I was six years old, I felt compelled to write the following OpEd piece at the time (which can also be read in it's edited/published form)...

To the Opinion Page editor(s) of the The Record,
I am writing to address an inaccuracy in a recent Record article entitled "Doctor to retire after 50 years". The article, about the career of Dr. Guey C. Mark, stated that Dr. Mark and his wife "...raised three children in Stockton...", a fact I know to be patently false. Why? Because Dr. and Mrs. Mark helped raise a great many other Stocktonians, myself included.
Growing up in Stockton in the 1960s and 1970s, it wasn't Marcus Welby, M.D. or some other fictional character who defined for me what it meant to be a 'family doctor', it was Dr. Mark. When my sister or I were sick or injured, my parents called Dr. Mark. And when my parent's phone calls led to a doctor's visit, that doctor's office was warm and friendly, with children's books in the lobby and a friendly smile and lollipop to assuage childhood tears after.
Even as an adult, Dr. Mark remained an ever comforting and reliable presence in my life. Driving home from the airport after a business trip, it was Dr. Mark at the other end of a late night cell-phone call, directing me to the emergency room during an attack of appendicitis. And just a few years ago, long after moving away from Stockton, it was Dr. Mark and his wife who looked up ancient shot records from the 1960s and mailed them to me, so that I could enroll in graduate school.
Dr. and Mrs. Mark, deserve my heartfelt gratitude, along with the gratitude of a great many other Stockton children whose lives they helped nurture and enrich over the years. The care we received helped define who we became, who we are, just as sure as if our last names had been "Mark".
Tim Nunes
Lisle, IL

Though several years have passed since Dr. Mark's retirement, and it's been more than ten years since I moved away from Stockton, hardly a day goes by when I don't think about him. Like dear relatives or close friends, Dr. Mark's care and council were ever present as I was growing up, became a part of the child I was, the teenager and adult I grew into, and the man I am now.

Which is why it hurts so much to know that Dr. Guey C. Mark, doctor and councilor, mentor and friend, Stockton's very own Marcus Welby, has passed away. I just received the call from my mother a few moments ago. I've also read his obituary which, though it very effectively communicates Dr. Mark's numerous accomplishments and impressive statistics, falls far short of communicating anything personal about the man himself... Of strong hands and a gentle disposition, serious advice tempered by a ready smile, or eyes that always seemed to glimmer with warmth and humor.

The City of Stockton, the State of California, this country and the greater planet we all share are all a bit poorer today with Dr. Mark's passing. And I... Well... I've lost a part of myself. I'll survive of course, partially due to the strength instilled in me at a very early age by a certain doctor... But not without experiencing pain only time can heal, and shedding tears no prescription can treat.

Farewell, Dr. Mark. To quote the Tao, "A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step". I wish you well on your new journey, and hope we meet again at the end of mine.


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