Monday, June 24, 2019

The Passing of a Great Man

Two years ago I took some photos of Doc at his desk, of him signing a medical at the podium
the way he always did, and some images of his office. I've spent hours looking for them.
Unfortunately, I have not found them yet. Meanwhile, here is a photo of his B-17 training certificate.

I find it increasingly interesting that as society accelerates toward ferality, individuals are still able to recognize greatness in a man. The case for a lack of examples may carry weight but I myself have known four. Unfortunately, the last one standing, my longtime friend, "Dr. Art J. Shulthise, known to all as "Doc," passed away yesterday (June 22nd, 2019). Through the years, nearly every person who met him would go on to use the word "great" as his descriptor.
With greatness there's something gravitational, perhaps even medicinal, about it. With Doc you felt its power - once you were in his orbit, you didn't leave. In his light, you were warm.
His passing has generated many thoughts for my never-ending search for meaning. It’s impossible to record them all. However, it is the great example he unwittingly provided for all of us who knew him that continues its climb to altitude in my mind. Kind, soft-spoken, generous, caring, and stoic in his resolve to be of use to his fellow man – this combined loss has made me the deepest kind of sad – the expiration of his light has cooled my universe.
Laughing to myself, in a moment of grief, attempting to smile the tears from my eyes, I cannot help but wonder if he was wasted on us, pilots. A grand construct of a man attempting to provide care for the incurable. A virtual saint for whorehouse piano players.
Yet, I also know there were thousands of us, and each thousand touches a thousand more. Be the man, or woman, Doc would have wanted you to be. Set good examples, care for those who need it and those who could use extra, and always do your best to be uplifting. Cast a weary but non-judgmental eye toward things you know are wrong but feel compelled to leave to others. Always smile. Be of use to others. Do your best to leave this world better than you found it.
As individuals we all have the ability to recognize greatness. Therefore, deep down, we also know how to be great. Yes, “it takes all kinds,” and few of us, if any, will ever have what Doc had. However, we can all do our part to share what he taught us about being the best person you can be. Give back what he gave. Be the sun in someone’s cloudy day. Remember my friend, our friend, by never allowing his example to die.

Visitation will be at Highland Funeral Home on Tuesday, June 25th, 2019, from 1-8pm.
The funeral will be held at 10:00 am at St. Raphael Church on Bardstown Road on Wednesday, June 26th, 2019. The burial will follow at Calvary Cemetary.
Following burial, a life celebration will follow at the Old Terminal Building, on Bowman Field.

Points of Interest
Preface: Doc was a local AME and legend.
Doc was a pilot before WWII and was an early member of the OX-5 Club.
During WWII he commanded a B-17 and his B-17 training certificate was signed by Bob Hoover.
During the war Doc was a scrounger. Through his trading he made good friends with a specific family that lived near the base in England from which he flew.  Decades later, when he returned to visit the field he had flown from, a guy on a tractor working the now farm field recognized him just as Doc recognized the guy.  The tractor driver was a kid in the same family when Doc was there during the war.
While in medical school, Doc would crop-dust during summer breaks to pay his way through. While other students were doing things that would look good on a resume he was working. Video exists of him doing so.
He was instrumental in figuring out how to preserve and transport blood.
He once owned a bottled water company fed by the spring used for Maker's Mark.
He owned the old Maker's Mark distillery and preserved it. Before he passed away he sold it to a company that will rehab and preserve it and it will eventually be a stop on the Bourbon Trail.
Doc's 450 Stearman was the reason we met, Ginger and me. Later he suggested we take it on one of our early dates. We did. Later, Ginger used it to get checked out in 450 Stearmans. Years earlier it was the first Stearman I was ever in.
He was still riding a Harley in recent years.
Doc ran a few miles every early morning on the treadmill.
He once had a heat attack one of those mornings, drove himself to the emergency room, and while walking past the deck told the attendings what was happening and continued down the hall and hooked himself up to the appropriate machines. He was back doing medicals a week later.
The first time Doc told me he was proud of me is something I'll never forget. He probably told everyone but coming from him it was special. He was a truly great man.
When he passed away he was 95 and as vibrant and active as many 60 year olds.
>There are so many things that could be listed here it would take me forever to finish.  I included only a few of the items I felt everyone would find interesting.

Back in February, Ginger and I stopped to get gas, in Louisville,
around 12 midnight to 1 am. While pumping gas, a voice from the other
side of the pump said, "What are you doing out at these hours young man?"
It was Doc. I never take selfies but I could not resist. We stood there in the
cold, chatting, then he went back to work! There was a pilot having medical
issues and Doc wanted to make sure he built a strong case for the individual
and had all the paperwork perfect.


G&K said...

These are the people we carry the torch for, as Jimmy Doolittle said making the world a better place when we pass than when we arrived.

Ed Burke said...

Thanks for that post Rich. living at the other end of the Earth I could never have met Doc, but I wish...........

Ed Burke, Flaxton, Queensland, Australia

Ken Bittner said...

Thanks for the thoughts and tribute Rich.
It sounds like "Doc" led the kind if life we should all strive for.
Blue skies and tailwinds Doc...wherever you are.

Unknown said...

Thanks Rich for the beautiful article. And thank you Dr. Shulthise and family for all the memories and service.

Unknown said...

Thank you for sharing. I know that John Lane would have had knowledge of Dr Shulthise and we would probably have come to the service but John has been gone now 7 years and everyone still misses him. Nelda Lane

Anonymous said...

From my perspective Dr. Shulthise was such a kind and gracious man. He was always open to humor when I visited him for my flight physicals. Rich and Ginger, thanks for sharing your memories.
Charles Dean

Bob Miller said...

It is difficult to capture in a few words how much Doc cared about those of us who went to him over the years for our Flight Physicals. One example, I had talked to Doc about his WWII days and had admired the B-17 pencil drawing that was framed in his office. Many years later when I retired I received a gift from Doc- It was that drawing of the B-17 that hung in his office.

Motorsport Adventures said...

Thank you everyone for sharing your memories a World War II veteran Doc. Although I never met doc I know his kind, every World War II veteran I was privileged to get to know was what all Americans should strive to emulate. May the family of Doc and all who loved him know could I for one appreciate his service to this great country. I hope that when I go west someday I have the privilege of meeting doc.

Randy Johns

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