|Birth: ||Aug. 17, 1929|
|Death: ||Dec. 18, 2009|
Howard Eldon Stutzman was born to Samuel Stutzman and Barbara (Slagell) Stutzman on August 17, 1929 in Hydro, Oklahoma and passed away on December 18, 2009 in La Junta, Colorado.
Howard was raised in Hydro, Oklahoma and attended Cedar Rural School. He attended High School in Weatherford, Oklahoma and Hesston Academy in Hesston, Kansas. Following graduation from Hesston, Howard farmed with his father for several years, did Voluntary Service in Gulfport, Mississippi and also Brooklane Farm in Hagerstown, Maryland where he worked on the farm and also as an orderly. It was during Howard's service at Brooklane Farm that he was drawn to medicine and the healing arts.
In 1953 Howard began nurses' training at Kansas City General Hospital, Kansas City, Missouri, obtaining an R.N. degree. The big event of July 17, 1955 was his marriage to Carolyn Frost (after first obtaining permission from the Director of the School of Nursing).
The next stop was Bethel College, North Newton, Kansas where Howard earned a Bachelor of Science degree before moving on to the University of Kansas School of Medicine. Howard obtained his M.D. in 1962 and served his internship at St. Joseph Hospital in Denver, Colorado followed by a year of general practice residency at Tulare County General Hospital in Tulare, California.
Dr. Stutzman's first practice was in La Jara, Colorado. Then in 1965, he moved with his family to La Junta, Colorado and established a general practice at Loma Vista Medical clinic where he served the community until his retirement.
In addition to practicing medicine, Howard was pleased to serve in many additional areas through the years. Howard has served as President and also as a Board member of the Arkansas Valley Regional Medical Center. He served as Chief of Staff for AVRMC. Howard served on the Community Health Council of the Colorado Medical Society. Over the years he helped in many community organizations such as Arkansas Valley Hospice, AVRMC Home Health, Arkansas Valley Resource Center, Board of Directors of the Colorado Boy's Ranch and the first Board of the Girch Center (now Arkansas Valley Community Center.) He was a member of the Rotary Club and served as President. Howard volunteered for the Trails and Rails program of Bent's Old Fort. He was an active member of Emmanuel Mennonite Church having served as Chairman of the Church Board and also as a Sunday school teacher. He was a member of the Board of Overseers of Hesston College, Hesston, Kansas and also was on the board of Bethel College, North Newton, Kansas. He was a member of the Colorado East Bank and Trust Board of Directors.
Howard helped with the vision and reality of Casa del Sol Retirement Center acting as Chairman of the Local Board until 2007. The residents of Casa del Sol affectionately awarded Howard the title of The Lawn Doctor.
Howard is survived by his wife of 59 years, Carolyn; son, Mark (Diana) Stutzman of Westminster, Colorado; grandchildren, Ryan Stutzman, Dusten (Mary) Salinas and Tara Salinas; brother-in-law Richard (Marilyn) Waters of Weatherford, OK; sister-in-law, Alice Stutzman of Hutchinson, KS and many nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his parents, two brothers, Roy and Myron and three sisters, Dorothy Mast, Ruth Miller and Lois Waters.
Contributions may be made in Howard's memory to the Casa del Sol Special Projects Fund or the Stutzman Scholarship Fund at Hesston College.
From La Junta Tribune-Democrat Dec 21, 2009:
Civic leader and prominent physician, Dr. Howard Stutzman, died Friday at Arkansas Valley Regional Medical Center. He was 80 years old.
Stutzman practiced family medicine in La Junta for 30 years and was the driving force behind the development of Casa del Sol retirement community, which opened in 1992 on the west side of La Junta. Flags at Casa del Sol flew at half-mast on Monday in honor of Stutzman's dedication and work to make Casa del Sol successful.
The community contains 48 apartments and seven duplexes that provide 14 more apartment, as well as the Aspen building, which houses the offices and activities center for Casa del Sol residents, which was built in 1999.
Stutzman and his wife, Carolyn, were residents of La Junta for more than 44 years at the time of his passing.
Although Dr. Howard Stutzman retired from the medical profession in 1995, he continued to serve in health-related fields as a member of the Arkansas Valley Regional Medical Center Board of Directors and has served on its various committees. Stutzman announced his retirement in June of 2008 from the AVRMC Board, which he has served on and off for more than 22 years.
Stutzman said at the time that when he was growing up, he knew he wanted to be a doctor.
"Even when I was a kid I thought that would be a neat career," Stutzman said about his decision to become a doctor. But the path was rather long. In 1950, Stutzman said he worked in a psychiatric hospital and decided then that he wanted to work in the medical field. He went through nurse's training first and worked as a registered nurse. Later, he went to medical school and found his calling.
After graduating from medical school at the University of Kansas, Stutzman and his wife, Carolyn, moved to Colorado where he completed his internship at St. Joseph's Hospital in Denver. He followed that with a one-year residency in California before returning to Colorado. The family moved to the San Luis Valley where he worked in La Jara for one year. At that same time, Dr. Dean Girard, who had opened Loma Vista with Dr. Clayton Weber in La Junta, had decided to expand his services and return to school to become a surgeon. The La Junta hospital and La Jara (Conejos County) hospitals were operated by the same people, and they connected Girard with Stutzman.
In 1965, Stutzman moved to La Junta and took over Girard's practice at Loma Vista. When Girard finished his training as a surgeon, he came back to Loma Vista in that position and brought on Dr. Robert Baumgartner, another surgeon. Eventually, Dr. M. Lee Schmucker would join the practice as Stutzman's partner. A general practitioner for the next 30 years, Stutzman, and all other general practitioners at the time, did everything from deliver babies — he has delivered 2,500 babies in his career — to helping the elderly. Stutzman retired from Loma Vista in 1995.
In January 1978, Stutzman began serving on the medical center board. At least one medical professional served on the board at that time, and Stutzman was chosen. During the 22½ years that he served, he was named board chairman for four of those years.
"I first went on as a physician board member, but then I just stayed on," Stutzman said with a laugh. His first term on the board ended in December 1994; but he again joined the board in February 2003 to fill Girard's position, which he finished out and then served another four-year term that ended on June 30, 2008.
One of the most important duties of the board, Stutzman said, is to approve all medical staff. After determining that their credentials are legitimate, the board "makes sure they have the capability to do what they say they can do.
"Being on a board takes time," he said. "I want to thank my wife Carolyn for always supporting me."
Through the last four decades, Stutzman said he had seen many changes. When he first came to La Junta, there was talk of building a new hospital. He saw the completion of the new hospital in the 1970s and had the privilege of delivering the first baby born in the new hospital. But through the changes, Stutzman said people are the reason the medical professionals work in the field and people serve on the medical center board.
"It's gratifying to see people around town who you and the medical center board have had a big part in improving their lives," Stutzman said at the time of his retirement. "The most satisfaction comes out of knowing that through your efforts, the medical center is serving the community the way it needs to be served. You see people come in who are awfully sick and who go out very well."
Stutzman received the Community Service Award at the annual La Junta Chamber of Commerce banquet for his work as a leader in the medical field and in the development of the first retirement community in La Junta.
"Casa del Sol owes its development to Howard's abilities and skills," said Carl Gusler, a Colorado Mennonite Retirement Center and Casa del Sol board member from 1984 to 2007. "I had known him informally before the Casa del Sol project. He came to the project after its birthing, but before it was focused. His stature and reputation allowed the program to move forward because he understood human aspirations and the business complexities that could make this attainable."
The Casa del Sol Board of Directors honored Stutzman in November 2009 for his 20 years of leadership and service to the retirement community.
Father: Samuel Emery STUTZMAN
b: 30 Dec 1890 in Kalona, Johnson County/Washington County, Iowa
Mother: Barbara SLAGELL
b: 5 Jan 1896 in Emporia, Lyon County, Kansas
Created by: Tom Crago
Record added: Jan 31, 2010
Find A Grave Memorial# 47352865
Added: Jul. 13, 2011