Monday, September 6, 2010

Another of The Greatest Generation passes

One of the beauties, for me, of a long holiday weekend is the ability to spend more time absorbing the Sunday newspaper. Yesterday, as I read page after page, I came across the obituaries and my eyes were drawn to a long write-up about Dr. John E. Ingram, M.D. The photo in the Kansas City Star's obituary section showed a young Ingram, clad in army khaki and combat helmet.

The story about Ingram was compelling and sounded as if it came straight from Tom Brokaw's book, The Greatest Generation. Ingram's tale embodied all that we respect about those who grew up in the Depression and then served in World War II.

Ingram was born in Wyoming and grew up "throwing newspapers, playing football, chasing horny toads and rattlesnakes, building balsa wood airplanes and all of the other things boys did during the Depression." He graduated from Rawlins, WY High School in 1942 and promptly joined the Army. After his basic training, Ingram fought in the Battle of the Bulge, the pivotal battle in the winter of 1944-45 in the European theater, crossed the Remagen Bridge under heavy gunfire from the enemy and was involved in the capture, and surrender, of Germany. He celebrated VE Day there.

The obit points out that while Ingram survived the war, he also saw first-hand the atrocities of the Holocaust. His unit was assigned to the Dachau concentration camp a few months after its liberation and witnessed the stockpiles of clothing, shoes and other items which were taken from the camp's prisoners and stored in a warehouse.

Mr. Ingram saw London and France before returning home to Rawlins. He worked at the Sinclair Refinery there but a work accident convinced him that he needed a change of profession, so he chose to go to medical school. He attended Creighton Medical School, graduated, and moved to Kansas City. He interned at St. Margaret's Hospital and ultimately bought out a family physician's practice in Argentine. It was during this time that Ingram met "a lovely young brunette on a blind date." And, yes, he and his love Barbara were married shortly thereafter and celebrated 49 years of marriage together before her passing.

Ingram and his wife would raise three children. He worked for over 40 years as a doctor and during that time reportedly delivered over 800 babies. Ingram was generous with his patients, allowing one to pay his bills with Polish sausage and helping another avoid suicide after spending hours talking to the man and getting him to turn over his pistol.

He had hobbies--photography, carpentry--and loved to travel with his wife.

There was no explanation for how Ingram died but the obituary painted a picture of a man who had lived his 86 years to the fullest. He served his country, served his fellow man, fell in love with and married one woman, and raised what sounds to be a successful family of children and grandchildren.

Life goes on but each day carries with it the passing of another Dr. John Igram--a member of "the greatest generation."

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