CADILLAC — His full name was Thomas Frank Richmond but to many, he was simply “Doc.‘
Whether it was his time as a family doctor, the founder of Medical Arts, now known as Family Health Care in Cadillac, team physician for the Cadillac High School football team, Wexford County Medical Examiner, or chief of staff at Mercy Hospital Cadillac, people knew Doc. On Aug. 30, Doc died at the age of 89 and since his passing people have been taking to social media to post memories as well as taking a moment to talk about him.
His son Michael lives in Traverse City and he said his father imparted many things but what he took away from their relationship most was how to value people and the outdoors. He also is survived by his daughters Theresa Richmond-Irvine of Idaho and Annette Richmond of Minnesota and many grandchildren.
“He always thought everyone had a gift to give. He wanted us (his family) to cherish that,‘ the 58-year-old said.
Doc’s gift was not only serving people of the community as a physician but also his compassion while doing it. Michael said his father was one of the most giving people he had ever met and he wasn’t talking monetarily. He said he can remember his father letting patients come into his practice through the “back door‘ or seeing them after they came to the house. He also said his father would travel great distances to treat a patient, if needed.
If a patient was unable to pay, then there was no payment, Michael said.
“It was one of those amazing things. He really gave to the people. The medical world is no longer like that with an old-fashioned doctor that made house calls,‘ he said.
When it came to the outdoors, Michael said hunting and fishing were something his father loved to do and he shared that love with his children. He also said his father taught his children how to respect nature especially Lake Cadillac after building a home on Lakeshore Drive.
He also had a love of gardening.
He enjoyed his flower gardens and later became a Florida and Michigan Master Gardener. After moving downstate, he kept his patio filled with beautiful, blooming flowers. He kept late wife Peggy in fresh roses all summer long and often shared his vegetables with all his neighbors and friends.
In addition to being a physician, outdoor enthusiast and gardener, Doc owned and operated a tree farm in Boon and a sportfishing charter boat business in Frankfort. Over the years his family and friends were regularly invited to “ring the bell‘ when a salmon was reeled in on the Tannenbaum. On the tree farm, Doc would often welcome those to come and cut down Christmas trees.
Former Cadillac football coach Jim Neff said when he came to Cadillac in 1971 via Flint, Tom Jobson was the head coach. Doc was there too. The next year Dave Brines became the head football coach and Neff remained on staff as an assistant.
“I don’t remember how long Doc served as the team doctor, but it seemed like he was always there,‘ Neff said. “Back in those days, no schools had athletic trainers and coaches had no training as to treating injuries. It was a real luxury and benefit to have Doc at all the games.‘
He said during his time as a team physician, Doc was never on the sidelines and opted to sit in the stands. As soon as there was an injury, however, Neff said Doc seemed to be on the spot immediately. He always carried a black doctor’s bag that Neff would tease him about.
“Most of the time he didn’t need to open it. He and I had a running joke about this. I accused him of having nothing in the bag but a submarine sandwich and that was the reason he never opened the bag,‘ he said. “If he did, people would find out the truth. He always laughed, even after we shared the joke a zillion times.‘
While Doc was the team’s physician, Neff said he also was his family’s doctor and their neighbor as he lived two blocks away. Neff said he remembers his family had a cat named Peanut Butter that had kittens. Neff’s daughter Amy who was 3 at the time named one of the kittens Flower Garden.
The Richmonds adopted Flower Garden and kept the name and Neff said the cat lived about 20 years. He said whenever his family saw Doc he would give them a Flower Garden report.
When Neff heard of Doc’s passing, he said he was, of course, sad to hear the news because Richmond was a legend of a bygone day. He said his family will miss him.
“One thing that I will always remember is the double hello. Whenever we saw him out and about he would greet us with his signature greeting — ‘Hello, hello.’ It was such a Doc classic, it always made us smile,‘ Neff said.
There are no plans for a mass or funeral and Michael said that was what his father wanted. He didn’t want a big fuss made about him. Although his family is following his wishes, it is clear the world is not the same now that Doc is gone.