A roast for doctor, Community Care Clinic

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009

By Mark Wineka
Salisbury Post
When a homesick Joe King of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., arrived at Duke as a freshman 50 years ago, he found himself bunking with “the most nonconforming roommate of anyone who ever attended” the prestigious university.
With his new friend, Myron Arthur Goodman Jr., King also inherited the best home away from home a boy could ask for ó the Goodman home at 800 Maple Ave. in Salisbury.
Today, King’s youthful experience neatly describes a man who can’t be described without noting his eccentricities.
But it also gives insight to the family doctor Goodman became ó a physician consumed with the welfare of his patients. He listened to them. Stayed by their bedside. Visited them at home. Hounded them to make better choices for their health.
From the time he began doctoring in Salisbury, he was home and grounded.
“His practice was so Norman Rockwell,” said Dr. Bill Thompson, remembering the month he spent with Goodman on loan from Wake Forest University’s Bowman Gray Hospital.
Seeing Goodman interact with his patients is the main reason Thompson decided to shun a big-city practice and locate in Salisbury.
“I thought this is how medicine really should be practiced,” Thompson said.
The Community Care Clinic paid tribute to Goodman Friday night with its annual charity roast and recognized him with its 2007 Humanitarian Award.
It was a time for family members, friends, patients, neighbors and co-workers to kid with Goodman and thank him for being what Tippie Miller described as “the epitome of a general practitioner.”
His patients are as devoted to him as he is devoted to them, speakers said Friday night.
Dr. Rudy Busby, a colleague, said Goodman looks after his patients like a mother hen. He added that Goodman’s sitting by the bedside of patients surely kept many of them alive.
The evening raised more than $47,000 for the Community Care Clinic, which provides free medical care, prescription medications and dental care with volunteer medical professionals and a skilled support staff.
Funding for the clinic comes from grants, donations and fundraisers like the one Friday.
Several people tried to take a stab at describing Goodman during the roast.
Many remarked on his resemblance to Ben Franklin. King remembered “the tornado of Myron coming and going,” which fit in with the “Energizer Bunny” label given to him by others.
In Vietnam, he was called “Dr. A-Go-Go” because of the way he was always flying around in a helicopter.
If you’ve driven along certain residential streets of Salisbury or attended some road races in recent decades, there’s a good chance you’ve seen Goodman running, his long gray hair spreading out from the bottom of his ball cap.
Or if you’ve been to Salisbury High School football games, that’s Goodman running up and down the sidelines as the team trainer.
Had Goodman lived out his dream completely, he would have been a football player and doctor.
The roast reminded the crowd of Goodman’s love of his wife and five children, sports, junk and old cars; his belief that he can repair cars; his fascination with NASCAR; his interest in physics and chemistry; the many medical students from Wake Forest and the University of North Carolina who he has entertained; and his penchant for wearing long sleeves and long ties.
Franco Goodman, one of his three brothers, said Myron can’t ever bring himself to get rid of his old cars because they are still part of his history. He has the vehicles stored under roof at Franco’s lumber yard.
The tires are rotting off. The cars’ windows are smashed in. The interiors are pretty much shot, and vegetation grows out of some of the vehicles.
But Myron still visits them on occasion, maybe thinking that someday he’ll get around to getting them running again.
Ned Storey, his longtime friend and neighbor, said Goodman’s love of old cars is as strong as his wife Mary’s dislike for them.
He also tends to collect what most other people consider junk. If it isn’t rusty, Mary said, he doesn’t like it.
Miller said most people consider Goodman a health nut, but the truth is he keeps a stash of candy and cakes ó gifts from patients ó in a bottom drawer in his office. Miller said she also has made several fried apple pies for him.
Myron’s sister, Prudy Taylor, called her oldest brother “the last of the great dinosaurs” but the most caring and compassionate of doctors.
Many people in Salisbury know Goodman by the nickname “Ocky.” Linda Weant, a childhood friend, called him “Ocky” because she couldn’t say Myron Arthur, Taylor said.
The nickname stuck for many of his longtime friends and relatives.
Toward the end of the evening, Ocky noted that he was lured to Friday’s event with a fake invitation suggesting the roast was for Storey. He even had a story ready to tell about Storey ó and told it anyway.
Salisbury is full of fine doctors and good medical care, Goodman said as the evening ended.
“I’m just a supporting agent.”Contact Mark Wineka at 704-797-4263 or mwineka@salisburypost.com.