February 7, 2005 – Posted at 8:48 a.m. CST
RIPLEY COUNTY – When we started looking for folks who make a difference, Dr. Gene Leuroux's name kept coming up again and again. The doctor has been practicing medicine in Ripley County for more than 40 years, but it's his patients who say he makes a difference.
Patient and fried Dennis L. Smith said, "Dr. Leuroux is one of the nice things about living in Ripley County."
Most of Ripley County's 13,000 residents know Dr. Gene Leuroux. A former chief of staff of the Doniphan Hospital, he now works at the Ripley County Family Clinic in Doniphan.
"I would say he's probably the most respected doctor in the town," said patient Amanda McAfee who shared her own memories of Dr. Leuroux, "I got married about two years ago. It was almost to where we were going to cancel our honeymoon, I was that sick. I came in and saw him, and he always says he's going to give you a little ole' shot, and gave me a shot and I was able to go on my honeymoon, and have a great time and I think without him, I would have had to cancel the trip."
"He just wants to make people well," said Dr. Leuroux's daughter Ramona Pierce, RN. Pierce works in her father's office, "He's on the go all the time, and I don't think he will ever retire from medicine."
The good doctor has been practicing medicine in Ripley County since 1962. After serving in the Korean War, he financed medical school on the G.I. Bill.
"One thing I've never had to wait on is patients. They've been after me all the time practically, almost 24 hours a day, most of the time," said Dr. Leuroux.
He keeps busy, seeing an average of 40 people a day for the last 45 years. When you do the math, that's more than a half-million folks, but he has slowed down a bit.
"The first ten years or so I was in practice, I averaged working 18 hours a day, seven days a week. Today, I just work mainly two days a week here at the office, do four or five house calls a week and do some minor surgeries at the hospital in between," said Dr. Leuroux, "Do something almost every day."
And yes, he still makes house calls. "It's good ole' hometown doctoring is what it is," laughed nurse practitioner Amy Holland.
"He would come at five o'clock in the evenings on Sunday evening and stay until the very last patient left," said Smith, "He likes what he does, and he's very good at what he does."
Legend has it that he's never turned anyone away.
"I'm sure that there are many, many bills that Dr. Leuroux has that he knows he's never going to get paid, and that does not matter," said Holland, "He'll see anybody, it doesn't matter if you have the money or not. We see you."
You would think all of the work Dr. Leuroux does would leave little time for a family. During his medical career, Dr. Leuroux has delivered more than 1500 babies, and raised a dozen children.
"Four of my own, two step children. We raised three grandchildren, and I've helped raise two nephews and a neighbor boy," said Dr. Leuroux as he counted on his fingers.
"It was kind of rough growing up because we hardly ever saw him unless we went to the office to see him. He was always at work, at the hospital, in the office, or on house calls. We would go on house calls with him occasionally," remembers Pierce, "I moved away and came back as a nurse, and I see him all the time now."
Medicine seems to run in the family.
"My daughter, two daughter-in-laws and a granddaughter that are all nurses," said Dr. Leuroux proudly.
Looking back, the ASU pre-med grad says he wouldn't change a thing.
"It's been a lot of rewards, and it's something that you can look back on and be proud of," said Dr. Leuroux, "I'll probably keep going as long as I can, as long as people call me and need me."