Who does he call first — his mechanic or his doctor?
Sadly, most of us would call our mechanic.
I am a pretty lucky guy. My mechanic, Norb Simon, is celebrating his 50th year in the business. My doctor, Jim Gottfried, is pushing 45 years, but he has decided to tap out.
Gottfried, who joined the Norwalk Clinic in 1978, recently announced he will retire in September.
And God bless him.
Gottfried has been my doctor since I moved to Norwalk in 1979. He has kept me healthy over the years and I always will appreciate it. My wife Jody worked with the good doctor at the clinic for a number of years.
But it was our bond outside of the doctor’s office I will remember the most about Gottfried.
I was the Reflector’s sports editor for 20 years. That meant covering the Norwalk Truckers football team. When I was on the sidelines, Gottfried was right there with me along with his sidekick, the Rev. Fred Wiechers. Gottfried was the team doctor. Wiechers was the team chaplain. It was a great combination — Wiechers took care of their souls while Gottfried took care of their bodies.
During the 20 years I covered the team, I never saw the Truckers post a winning record. It was tough at times, but Gottfried always was the optimist. He never let the losing get him down.
Before every game he was full of excitement and confidence. Thankfully he wasn’t a gambler or else he would have lost all of his money.
Those are the kinds of fans every team needs.
A graduate of Upper Sandusky High School, Gottfried played football at Capital University. His picture is on the wall at the Capital Center as part of the 1970 Stagg Bowl championship team.
Our daughter, Jordan, has her picture on the same wall as an All-American volleyball player.
We swapped a lot of stories over the years. When I would go into Gottfried’s office for an appointment, Jody would tell me not to talk to him about sports.
We’d talk about the Truckers and the Flyers. We’d talk about his days at Upper Sandusky and Capital. We’d even talk politics once and awhile.
When I would leave I knew I put the good doctor behind with the rest of his patients.
I’m going to miss Dr. Gottfried. No disrespect to Norb, but when he retires I can find another mechanic. I can find another doctor, but he or she will not be Dr. Gottfried.
The Reflector published a story Monday about Dr. Gottfried and he was too busy to be interviewed. That doesn’t surprise me.
That’s why I wanted to talk for him.
We’ll miss you. I hope you and Patti enjoy your retirement with your children and grandchildren.
It just won’t be the same when somebody else tells me to turn my head and cough.
Joe Centers is Reflector managing editor. He can be reached at [email protected]