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News & Press: History of the Osteopathic Profession

Floyd Henry, DO - History of the Osteopathic Profession

Monday, June 18, 2012   (0 Comments)
Posted by: John Stiger, DO
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Until recently, being a general surgeon in a small osteopathic hospital meant that the surgeon was called upon to perform many different types of surgeries.  Additionally these surgeons were on call a great deal of the time and also required to train and mentor future osteopathic physicians. One such general surgeon was Dr. Floyd Henry, who was not only very competent in all areas of surgery, but he made himself available by phone for consultations, often interrupting his day to squeeze a patient into his already busy schedule.   His wonderful sense of humor and a relaxed style endeared him to those who worked with him and earned him the respect of the entire medical community DO and MD.  He was a raconteur without peer.

Floyd was born in Des Moines, Iowa into a family of five children - four boys and one girl.  His father an optometrist and home maker mother both had a keen interest in sports, music and education.  As a result, Floyd was active in football, baseball, boxing and piano.  From an all-boy catholic high school, Floyd went straight to the all men’s college of St. Ambrose in Davenport, Iowa.  In high school, Floyd excelled in boxing and even won a golden gloves award.  While in college he boxed for the college team and also professionally as “Kid Henry” earning extra money. During college he began to date Liz Alger a girl he met at a “mixer” where girls from the all-girl high school met the boys from the all-boy high school.

Initially, Floyd’s intention was to follow in his father’s footsteps and become an optometrist.  This all changed when he injured his back boxing and visited the family physician Dr. Barquist, a DO.  Dr. Barquist inquired as to his future plans and on a prescription pad jotted the name of the Still College of Osteopathic Medicine in Des Moines, suggesting that Floyd pay them a visit.  After the visit Floyd changed his plans and enrolled in 1957.  He graduated in 1961 and after a conversation with Milton Snow, another student at Des Moines, he applied for an internship at Eastmoreland Hospital in Portland, Oregon.  The primary attractions of the Northwest to Floyd were all of the opportunities for fishing, hunting, skiing etc the area afforded!

Between his second and third year at Des Moines he married Liz an airline stewardess for TWA airlines.  During his internship he met Dr. Scanlon a general surgeon and soon it became evident that this was to be his life’s work.  After internship he became a surgery preceptor under Dr. Scanlon.  After a few months Dr. Scanlon was tragically killed in a car crash forcing the young couple and young Suzie to move to Saginaw, Michigan to continue Floyd’s preceptorship under a Dr. Ferris.  After a very difficult trip in midwinter they arrived and Floyd immediately embarked on his new responsibilities.  As chief resident he discovered that he was being paid less than the interns and he had not had a vacation in over two years!  Dr. Ferris said that this was because Floyd never asked!  The work was grueling and the hours were long but no question Floyd had a great residency!

There was never any question as to where he would locate.  As soon as he could he returned to Portland where he was royally welcomed.  From 1965 to 1970 he worked very hard often spending the night in the doctor’s lounge after a long surgery.  Three hours a night sleep was not unusual.  It was not unheard of for him to have fifteen cases in one day to say nothing of his office practice, consulting and participation in hospital responsibilities as chief of surgery etc.  During this time they also adopted son Floyd Jr. and daughter Katie.  Finally, he and Liz had a heart to heart discussion where Liz told him he needed to work even harder so that there would be a nice nest egg for her next husband when he died from overwork!  And so in 1970 he took a partner, William Graham, DO.  Between the two the hospital had excellent general surgery coverage, and Floyd had a little more time to pursue his many outside interests.

During his thirty years in practice Dr. Henry held many offices on the hospital staff including chief of staff.  He was also active in the state osteopathic organization (OOA) . He was a wonderful teacher and time on his service was coveted. There was rarely a time when he didn’t have a student, intern or a resident working with him. When the hospital was sold in 1989 a foundation was formed from the proceeds of the sale. Dr. Henry was a founding member of the Northwest Osteopathic Medical Foundation and received its highest award for his service in 2002.  His other interests included trap shooting, golf, and hunting. As his wife Liz would say whatever he did he did to the best of his ability. That way there were never any regrets about not trying hard enough.  He loved a good party and often his piano playing and stories were the life of the party!

On December of 1995 Floyd retired and for a time he was able to enjoy retired life including taking up painting.  Six months later he had an abdominal aneurism repair.  After that his health began to deteriorate rapidly and a rapid growing lung cancer led to his untimely demise in 2001.  His greatest achievement according to Liz was living life to the fullest and caring for people as a surgeon.  His greatest regret was that he didn’t spend more time with his family and that he was never able to stop smoking.  To this day, stories about this man abound, his impact on so many osteopathic physicians and their patients was profound.  We miss him.


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