DESHLER, Ohio - Dr. Robert J. Blough, a former Henry County coroner who delivered an estimated 3,000 babies during his 47 years as a family doctor here, died of an apparent heart attack yesterday in the Mennonite Memorial Home in Bluffton, Ohio. He was 82.
"He was a very quiet, a very determined person - determined to help people," his wife of 58 years, Celia M. Blough, said. "He cared very much for his patients."
In Deshler, nearly everybody knew him.
"He's treated five generations of my family. And probably everyone in this room could say the same thing," resident Sue Fackler said during an 800-person farewell party when Dr. Blough retired four years ago. "He's just a wonderful man. He devoted his life to this."
Mike Miesle, the former administrator of Wood County Hospital in Bowling Green with which Dr. Blough was associated, said in a 2000 interview Dr. Blough used hypnosis rather than anesthetics to help women through labor. That was before Lamaze was practiced.
"He was state of the art and was always willing to improve the health care of his patients," Mr. Miesle said.
Dr. Blough, a Middlebury, Ind., native, graduated from high school there in 1940 and went on to study at Bluffton College, which he attended until 1943 when he enlisted in the Army. He said in a 1996 interview that his interest in the medical profession was piqued in China, where he spent 2 1/2 years as a meteorologist with the Army Air Corps.
In 1945, Dr. Blough was honorably discharged with the rank of corporal and returned to Bluffton to finish college in 1947 with a bachelor's degree in science. Seven years later, he got his medical degree from the Hahnemann School of Medicine in Philadelphia and became a family physician in Deshler.
As a young doctor, he was known to make up to 15 calls a day and to assist at accident scenes before the advent of emergency medical services.
Dr. Blough retired in 2000. He was the Henry County coroner during the last eight years of his medical practice.
His longtime office manager and head nurse, Diana Ohlrich, said in 2000 that he always lived in a house next to his office and hardly ever went on vacation.
"He was on call seven days a week, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year," Ms. Ohlrich said.
His hobby was flying a single-engine, four-seat Cessna plane he owned.
He flew it as far as New Jersey, Colorado, and Canada on family vacations.
Dr. Blough was a member of First Mennonite Church of Bluffton, and China-Burma-India Basha, Toledo, an organization of World War II veterans.
He was a former member of First Presbyterian Church in Deshler, where he was a church elder and a Sunday schoolteacher.
Surviving are his wife, Celia M. Blough; sons, Neal Blough and Keith Blough; daughter, Laurie Miller, and six grandchildren.
Services will be at 11 a.m. Tuesday in Immanuel Lutheran Church, Deshler. The body will be in the First Mennonite Church in Bluffton after 3 p.m. Sunday and in Hanneman Funeral Home in Deshler after 2 p.m. Monday.
The family suggests tributes to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation or to Bluffton College.
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