BELLEVUE, Ohio - Dr. D. Ross Irons, the chief of surgery at Bellevue Hospital, where he practiced for 41 years, died Sunday in University Medical Center, Toledo, of complications from pneumonia. He was 73.
Dr. Irons believed a good interview with his patients yielded as much or more information than the newest medical tests, his wife, Linda, said.
She described him as a true physician who felt the human touch and talking to patients was key. "He said that one of the most important things as a doctor was to always touch your patients."
A general surgeon, he excelled professionally, including serving as president of the Ohio Chapter of the American College of Surgeons in 1993 and as president of the Ohio State Medical Association in 1987.
"He was very giving of his time. His most important work was taking care of his patients. He never stopped learning," Mrs. Irons said.
In addition to his skills and compassion as a doctor, Dr. Irons also was known for his sense of stewardship of the family land that he hoped future generations would continue to protect.
Dr. Irons farmed 670 acres, growing corn and soybeans on the land where he grew up as a child. It was a love for him and also was therapeutic, Mrs. Irons said.
"He grew up on the farm and kept it going," she said. "He could go out and work on the land and get his mind off of things. He loved the smell of dirt."
Dr. Ted Ball was his best friend. The two graduated from Bellevue High School and the Ohio State University college of medicine.
Dr. Irons had the personality and bedside manner of a country doctor, and the skills of a world-class surgeon, who at 73 was still learning new techniques, Dr. Ball said.
"He didn't have an inflated personality. He did his job, and he worked hard every day," he said. "A hospital as small as Bellevue has to have doctors like Ross in the medical situation we are in."
In a world of specialized and outpatient surgery, Dr. Irons could still operate with a scalpel the old-fashioned way, rather than relying all the time on modern scopes that sometimes are limiting, Dr. Ball said.
"He was a general surgeon to the 'T.' He was an expert in abdominal, pelvic, and breast surgery. There aren't many of them left," he said. "Twenty years ago, we had a lot of guys who could work in the abdomen. He was taking classes in new surgical techniques this year."
Dr. Irons was a member of Lyme Congregational Church. He served as chairman of the boards of Bellevue Hospital in 1980 and of Physicians Insurance Company of Ohio from 1988 to 1990. He was a member of numerous medical boards and associations, including the American College of Surgeons, American Medical Association, and several local economic development boards.
Surviving are his wife Linda; sons, Ross P., Logan, Ryan, Lukas, and Aaron; daughter, Alicia Lindquist; 12 grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren.
Visitation will be after 9 a.m. Friday in the atrium of the former Bellevue Hospital facility, 811 Northwest St. Services will be at 10 a.m. Saturday in St. Paul United Church of Christ, Bellevue.
The family suggests tributes to the Bellevue Hospital Foundation Walking Trail Project or to Lyme Congregational Church.