Friends, colleagues remember Dr. Bernhard Mittemeyer
LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - Family members, doctors, patients and veterans across the South Plains are in mourning after a man who spent his life serving and inspiring others has died.
Dr. Bernard Mittemeyer spent his life putting others first.
His colleague and friend, Dr. Allan Haynes at Texas Tech’s Health Science Center, says he was selfless, humble and an amazing doctor.
“Bernie Mittemeyer was one of the finest physicians, surgeons, and human beings I’ve known,” Dr. Haynes said.
As a soldier Mittemeyer was assigned to the 101st Airborne Division, the same one that helped liberate his home country of the Netherlands from Nazi occupation years before.
Dr. Mittemeyer went on to serve as Surgeon General for the United States Army under President Ronald Reagan, 1981 through 1985.
He served as dean and interim president at TTUHSC, but is also remembered as a teacher and a friend.
The department of urology is named after Dr. Mittemeyer, who helped create it. For many years, it has served as a place for his legacy to inspire students and save lives.
“He is one of the great ones. We stand on the shoulders of the giants so that we’re better,” Dr Haynes said. “He’s one of the giants.”
Dean of the Medical School at Texas Tech, Dr Steven Berk, Mittemeyer had a passion for helping those who fought, as he did, to protect our country.
“He had this real special passion to make sure that the veteran got good care,” Dr. Berk said.
Mittemeyer’s passion eventually led Lubbock to open its new VA clinic. It took nearly a decade to make that dream a reality, but Dr. Mittemeyer wouldn’t stop until the mission was complete.
“When General Mittemeyer sets his mind to a task, god help the poor fool who wants to stand in his way,” Dr Haynes said. “That’s Bernie’s place. That’s Bernie’s place.”
Dr. Dalton Keel at the VA Clinic says it’s a place Dr. Mittemeyer can look down on with great pride.
“One of the things General Mittemeyer was very big on was making sure that the seal was big enough that it could be seen from heaven,” Dr. Keel said.
His legacy will live on to help patients at Texas Tech HSC’s urology department.
“He’ll be impacting lives for years and years to come,” Dr. Keel said. “He had a service-oriented heart, and his life was devoted to not only service for his country but to his fellow man and woman, and all those to come after him.”
This mission started long before he died, and others, like Dr. Berk, will carry on in his stead.
“I’ve actually had very few mentors,” Dr. Berk said. “He stands as the number one. He may have been my only true mentor in so many different ways.”
Dr. Haynes said it was a joy to be part of the story Dr. Mittemeyer left behind.
“Bernie, what a joy to have been part of your life. To know you, to serve with you,” Dr. Haynes said. “Be sure to divert St. Peter’s attention so I can sneak through the gate when I’m up there.”
Dr. Mittemeyer was 92 years old.
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