"Live a good life, and in the end, it’s not the years in the life, it’s the life in the years."

Our story on why we are here

By on August 24, 2019 in Columnist with 0 Comments
Jim Brown

By Jim Brown, M.D.

Over the years I was often asked, “How did you decide to settle in Wenatchee?” 

Before deciding to move here, neither my wife nor I had ever been in the state of Washington.

Growing up in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, I had never seen an ocean and had never been west of the Black Hills in western South Dakota. 

During my senior year at Northwestern University Medical School in Chicago, my undergraduate University of Nebraska football team qualified to play in the Orange Bowl against Auburn University. My wife’s dad, a life-long Cornhusker fan, decided to take the whole family to the game held in Miami. 

I remember flying out of freezing Chicago on the evening of Dec. 27 and landing in Miami at 10 p.m. It was warm and balmy. I just couldn’t believe it. 

My first reaction was, “Why did my parents move to South Dakota when they left Detroit when there were places like this?” 

Finally, I saw an ocean as well as saw Nebraska as underdogs beat Auburn 14-7. I was in Husker heaven, I thought. 

After I graduated from medical school, we moved to Minneapolis where I interned for a year and also where our son Steve was born. The Vietnam war was building up when I was an intern. I decided then to enlist in the U.S. Navy reserve. 

The Navy guaranteed me that I would be deferred from active duty until I finished all my specialty training, and then I would go into active duty in the Navy. 

The year following my internship we moved to Rochester, Minnesota, where I had been accepted for a Mayo Clinic residency in internal medicine. Our second son, Dave, was born there. 

The winters there were bitter cold and miserable. We had to plug heaters into our car radiators so they would start in the morning. One winter day  the high temperature was 24 degrees below zero, not even counting the wind chill temperature. 

I told my wife Lynn that I had had enough. As soon as possible we were moving to a warmer climate, preferably on the West Coast that I had never seen. 

 That spring, a fellow Mayo resident and friend made a trip to the West Coast to look for a potential place to practice medicine. When he came back to Rochester he told me that he looked at a very nice clinic in Wenatchee, Washington, which he said, was in a beautiful area. 

That was the first time I had ever heard of Wenatchee. We had never considered the possibility of living in Washington State. 

After finishing my Mayo training, we moved to the San Diego area where I had been offered a fellowship in Gastroenterology at the Scripps Clinic and Research Foundation. The day after my fellowship ended I was immediately assigned to active duty at the huge Balboa Navy Hospital in San Diego, where I practiced medicine for the next two years. It was a great medical experience. 

During my second year there, we started looking for a place to practice. About that same time our daughter, Kirsten was born in San Diego. There were numerous job offers in Southern California, but my wife did not want to raise our family there. 

Then I remembered the comment my Mayo friend had made about Wenatchee, some four years earlier. 

I wrote to the Wenatchee Chamber of Commerce and got several brochures. From what we could see, it looked like a paradise, so I contacted the Wenatchee Valley Clinic about their needs. 

There was not a single board certified gastroenterologist in the state between Seattle and Spokane at that time. They invited me to visit. 

The Navy sent me to Seattle for a couple of weeks, so when there, I rented a car and drove over to get a glimpse of Wenatchee and speak to some of the physicians at the clinic.

 There were only 19 doctors there at that time. They were anxious to add a gastroenterologist. 

After I returned to California, Lynn and I decided to return together for an official interview to see if this was a place where we might want to live. 

As we drove over Stevens Pass through the beautiful Tumwater canyon, Lynn was thrilled. Getting closer to Wenatchee, the trees started disappearing and the barren hills were brown. Lynn’s comment was, “what’s happening? Are you sure about this?” 

After meeting the clinic’s doctors and their wives at Dr. Vaughn Smith’s home, they offered me the job. The next day we went out to Ohme Gardens to discuss, think and pray about our decision and our future. 

It was so beautiful at Ohme Gardens that fall day. As we looked out on the Wenatchee Valley, we decided to say yes, to move to this place we had never seen before. 

There were many other offers, all of which offered better starting salaries, but we decided that this was the place we wanted to put down roots and hopefully live here the rest of our lives. 

Lynn and I are both people of faith and believe that there is a higher power that has helped and guided us, not only in meeting each other and marrying, but also in much of our decision making throughout our lives. 

Once we make our decisions, we try not to look back but assume that we are being guided by that power on the path we have chosen. 

Coming here in 1970 was a decision we never regretted.

Jim Brown, M.D., is a retired gastroenterologist who has practiced for 38 years in the Wenatchee area. He is a former CEO of the Wenatchee Valley Medical Center.

About the Author

About the Author: .


If you enjoyed this article, subscribe now to receive more just like it.

Post a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *