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Published: Friday, 1/22/2010

Doctor made house calls

Dr. Ojars Podins, 98, a physician who survived Soviet and German takeovers of his native Latvia and a world war before he started a medical practice in Toledo, died Sunday in the Goerlich Center, Sylvania, where he lived about eight years.

He had Alzheimer's disease and other health problems, said his son-in-law, Fred Doering.

Dr. Podins, for many years of West Toledo, retired in 1989. His first office in the mid-1950s was on Lagrange Street, and many patients came from that largely surrounding Polish-American neighborhood.

"At Easter and Christmas, his refrigerator was full of homemade kielbasa," Mr. Doering said. "Back in the '50s, things were pretty old-school. He had no receptionist or nurse. He answered the phone, kept the records, took the temperature - he did everything himself."

He had staff eventually and later offices were on Upton Avenue, Phillips Avenue, and Sylvania Avenue. He made house calls into the 1960s and delivered babies nearly until he retired.

"He had one patient, she happened to be Latvian, and her comment was, 'He doctored with his heart and his soul,'•" his son-in-law said.

"He was one of the strongest people I've ever seen," his son-in-law said. "He was pretty much oblivious to any kind of personal discomfort. He would be quick to comfort someone else, but in his own case, it was nothing to be considered."

In 1986, the Academy of Medicine of Toledo and Lucas County recognized him for 50 years of medical practice.

Dr. Podins was born in Riga, Latvia, the son of a physician. He received his medical degree in 1936 and served in the army of the still-independent nation. He was taking postgraduate medical courses in Austria when the Soviet Union occupied Latvia. He later worked in a Riga hospital.

The Germans occupied the country during World War II, and he was pressed back into military service because the Germans were fighting the Soviet Army. He escaped the Soviet Army at the end of the war, and he and his wife lived in a displaced persons camp in western Germany.

"The whole thing was horrible," his son-in-law said. "He didn't have much good to say about Russians or Germans."

Dr. Podins and his wife were sponsored to come to the United States and settled in Chicago while he studied English and got medical licenses. He worked at a tuberculosis hospital in Kentucky, then moved to Toledo, where he worked at the William Roche Memorial Hospital.

He traveled widely, from the jungles of Venezuela to the sands of Egypt. He returned to Latvia after Communist control ended.

"It was highly emotional," his son-in-law said.

He was a 55-year member of St. Paul's Lutheran Church, Toledo.

His wife, Milda, died in 1960. They married in the early years of World War II.

Surviving is his daughter, Linda Doering.

Services will be private. Arrangements are by the Walker Funeral Home.

The family suggests tributes to the Goerlich Center.



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