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Dr. ROBERT A. NACHTWEY 1912-2005


Posted By: Volunteer
Date: 11/3/2005 at 20:35:27

Waukon Standard, September 22, 2005

Dr. Robert Nachtwey

Robert A. Nachtwey, M.D., age 92, of Springfield, Ill., died Tuesday, September 13, 2005, peacefully at home surrounded by his family after a long illness.

Robert was born September 16, 1912, in Lansing, Iowa, the son of Franz and Lucinda Williams Nachtwey. As a young man he was a passionate fisherman and trapper who spent countless hours rowing the sloughs of the Mighty Mississippi River where he trolled their depths for catfish and muskrat. He left home to attend the University of Notre Dame where he enjoyed the glory years of Knute Rockne before enrolling at the St. Louis University School of Medicine. His time there was interrupted by the Depression and his father’s illness, so he returned to Lansing to work in his family’s pharmacy. After two years he reentered and then graduated from medical school and went on to complete a year of internship training in pathology at the St. Louis City Hospital. However, Bob's career path was again interrupted, this time with the Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor. The next day he enlisted in the US Army where he served during World War II in the 315th Medical Battalion of the 90th infantry division. His unit landed in Normandy on D-Day and he served as a medical and triage officer in France and Germany. For his service as a Major in the military he received both the Silver Star and the Soldiers Medal.

After returning from the military he married his hometown sweetheart, Mary Kerndt, at Sacred Heart Church at Notre Dame in Indiana. In light of his war experience Bob’s medical interests and direction shifted to direct patient care. Dr. Nachtwey resumed his medical training by doing a four year Fellowship in Internal Medicine at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., where he and Mary had the first three of their ten children. Mary and Bob moved to Springfield and he joined the Fleischi Medical Group in 1950 where he practiced for nearly 50 years and served as President of the medical staff at St. John’s Hospital in 1973. The first 30 years his practice was devoted to internal medicine.

In 1980 while on vacation in London, England, he was inspired by what was then an emerging and different way to treat terminally ill patients, hospice. This, he felt, was a truly special type of caring. As a result of this experience at St. Christopher’s in London he became one of the founders and the first medical director of the Hospice at St. John’s Hospital. He championed this novel concept in the Springfield medical community and became one of “the giants” of the discipline of palliative care.

In addition to his medical interests he involved himself with numerous community programs including the Mary Bryant home, the SARA (Springfield AIDS Resource Association) Center, Triangle Center, and the Calvary Cemetery board.

Dr. Nachtwey received numerous awards including the Copley First Citizen Award in 1990, the Sangamon County Medical Society Alliance Humanitarian Award in 2002 and the Central Illinois Notre Dame Club Man of the Year.

Dr. Nachtwey was an avid gardener presenting a beautiful residential flower garden each season to the Washington Park area. Moreover, he also enjoyed great literature and poetry and taught several courses in the Great Books program for parochial school students. In his later years he was an active member of Bible studies at Christ the King Church. One of his great loves was the tradition of football - especially Notre Dame and Griffin High.

The most important thing in his life was his family. His life partner and soul mate, Mary, was his wife for nearly sixty years. Though he and Mary have ten children they have been actively involved with and have devoted themselves to each and every one of them. Bob has made significant efforts to remain in contact with the entire family, which has been geographically dispersed throughout the world.

Indeed, before the advent of fax and email he created a bi-monthly newsletter “The Fortnightly Report” to stay in touch with his entire family. Moreover, his human concern for patients influenced eight of his children to pursue active careers in the health care professions.

Survivors include his wife, Mary K. Nachtwey of Springfield; six daughters, Mary Louise Nachtwey of Springfield, Elizabeth (Stephen Collens) Nachtwey of Nelson, B.C., Susan (Gerald) Tinguely of Farmington, Maine, Nancy Nachtwey (partner Ernie Montoya) of Oakland, Calif., Kathryn Nachtwey of Ukiah, Calif., and Julie (David Innes) Nachtwey of Seattle, Wash.; four sons, Jim (Karen) Nachtwey of Springfield, Frederick (Julie) Nachtwey of Berkeley, Calif., Gregory (Esther Hirsh) Nachtwey of Berkeley, Calif., and Matthew Nachtwey of Springfield. Robert is also survived by 14 grandchildren.

Funeral Mass was held Friday, September 16, 2005, at Christ the King Catholic Church with Rev. Msgr. David S. Lantz, celebrant. Burial followed in Calvary Cemetery where the Interveterans Burial Detail of Sangamon County will conduct military honors.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Scholarship Fund at Sacred Heart - Griffin High School, 1200 West Washington, Springfield, IL 62702 or St. John's Hospice, 800 E. Carpenter, Springfield, IL 62702.


Allamakee Obituaries maintained by Sharyl Ferrall.
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