It is my pleasure to feature Dr. Lawrence Stoskopf in our Member Spotlight. Dr. Stoskopf exemplifies “service above self.” I know you will enjoy learning more about his journey. As we begin 2022, I encourage everyone to return to Rotary for a year filled with promise and goodwill. Bring a friend or colleague!
Brenda O’Gorman, Membership Chair
I was born in 1939 and raised on a three-generation farm near Hoisington. I dimly remember sitting in a harvest field with my grandfather watching a pull-type combine cut wheat while formations of B-29s flying over the Cheyenne Bottoms and listening to the sound of practice bombs as they readied for Japan. At age 13, a friend and I got our Ham Radio tickets which led both of us into science-based careers.
I went to Kansas State to study Technical Agronomy and then for an M.S. in Ag Economics. Farmhouse Fraternity provided me with a great group of friends and guidance. Along the way, I joined the Army Reserve as a company clerk just for the experience. I happened to be in basic training when the Cuban crisis happened. Thankfully someone blinked. I went back to the farm in the mid-sixties as planned. Crops were poor and prices were low. Plus, my father was in his 50s, too young to retire and there was no land around to rent. To pick up extra cash I worked nights as an oil field roughneck.
Along the military way, I did a few things and was asked by General Parrish to apply for a direct commission. The first application was returned as not as qualified as other candidates. General Parrish told me to go talk to Bob Dole at his office in Great Bend. Turns out that I had applied for armor or infantry, my eyes were too bad, and that I should request the Medical Service Corps as they had an opening there. I soon had a gold bar on my uniform plus a big red CI stamped on my personnel record (Congressional Influence)! That also introduced me to the medical field.
About that time a couple of Hoisington MDs chatted with me about the lack of family practitioners in town and asked if I would be interested in changing careers. Thinking, “I can do that!” I took the MCAT test and went for an interview at KUMC on a Fall Saturday (before an evening K-State FB game!). The first question was, “What do you want to do in medicine?”, the honest answer was to go home to practice medicine. That Tuesday, I had my acceptance letter. The legislature had figured out that if you want physicians in western Kansas you don’t want to choose candidates from non-rural backgrounds, and I’d said the magic words.
I went to KUMC, met Jo Ann, my wife-to-be, and along the way found that I was better at anesthesia than family practice. Jo Ann and I both went selected anesthesia for careers. In my spare time, I played with learning Fortran on the school’s research computer and was asked to process some research data for publication using the department’s research on anesthesia and dogs. I printed some pretty graphs along with some statistics for them and was soon informed that my elective third year would be spent with half-time cardiac research…basically killing dogs. I pleaded that I was going to Salina and didn’t need that kind of experience but couldn’t get out of it. At the same time, an out-of-the-blue offer of an opening for a third-year residency position arrived from the world’s center for education in nerve block anesthesia and pain management, home to two of the major authors on the subject. Soon, Jo Ann, a new son, Kurt, and I were off to Seattle with intentions to join Dr. Glen Eaton in Salina the next year.
Jo Ann enrolled our son, Kurt, who was deaf, into the Seattle Hearing and Speech program. When the year was up, she informed me that the deaf education in Wichita for Kurt was better for him and that she had found us anesthesia jobs there. We went to Wichita. A couple of surgeons mentioned when I arrived that no one had been with the group I was joining for more than five years. I made six. A ten-million-dollar libel suit followed me to Salina and failed, but that’s another story.
Jo Ann’s family lived in Talmage, so our original plan seemed in order. Dr. Sebree had offered to schedule Jo Ann for his cases, and I had a full schedule promised, largely with Dr. Romeiser’s r and Dr. Sloo’s groups. Then Dr. Mangoglu arrived and started requesting pain blocks, which I did between cases. The OBs were scheduling labor inductions in the afternoon so that Jo Ann and I could provide labor epidurals after our regular schedule. For a while, the two of us had a caseload that was 3.5 times larger than that of the next person in my residency class. We both have had long and interesting careers.
Through all of this, I would wait on Mondays until after 1 o’clock to start afternoon cases so my surgeons could attend Rotary. What stories they told! So, on retirement, adding myself to that membership was job one. For the last 12 years, I’ve found that the talks I expected and the friends I’ve made were worth the wait.