Tribute to Doc Nyce 2011.10.05

Written by David Green.

By TOM SPIESS

As you look around you see a portion of the people whose lives were touched by Dr. Robert Nyce.  

I would imagine that we grew up knowing that physicians were special people in the lives of communities.

For the older generation the names of Doctor Evers, Stotzer, Murbach, Reed, Diccion, Neal, Ebersole, Whitehouse, Elliot, Vogle, Davis and Mertif, conjure up images of the communities that they practiced in.

Robert.nyceI would also guess that if you were from one of those communities, you knew exactly where each of those physicians lived.  

You see, in the America of the mid- Twentieth Century, physicians, like teachers, pastors, and Main Street merchants, were expected to live in their community and participate in the life of their town.

In Fayette, we not only knew where Doc and Ruth lived, many of us were frequent guests.  We were welcomed into their home and into their lives.

Once inside we learned about Buck’s County, Pa., (Doc’s home) and Holme’s County, Ohio, (Ruth’s home), Goshen College, Ocean City, salt-water taffy, Haggi Candy, something called scrapple, and ground cherry pie. (The latter were not Doc’s favorite.) 

We also learned about the importance of family. Biological families, church families and the family of community.

Keep in mind, it was less than 60 feet from their back door to the back door of his office. And there you found the “family room” under the emergency room of the office. 

It was common for the staff to run over to the house to search for Doc, to share receipts, check schedules and anything else that was important on that day.  

Lines became blurred; patients, staff, neighborhood kids, family, friends, the Women’s Club, theater buffs, they could all be found at the Nyce home.  

It was not unusual to stop by the house long after office hours and catch Doc, with his back to the door and the phone within arms reach eating a late supper.  Nor was it unexpected to hear him say, “Ruth, get a piece of…” whatever dessert Ruth had made that day.  “They look hungry!” 

Over four decades, Doc became an integral part of the Fayette community. 

Noted social scientist Arnold Toynbee said that great civilizations arise when its citizens acknowledge and successfully respond to challenges.  

Doc with his friends and fellow citizens adopted that theory for Fayette. 

Here are few examples:

• When the county school board transferred Fayette School District to Archbold in the early 1970s, Doc reminded us that the quality of the school is best indicated by the success of its graduates, not the scope of its curricular or extra-curricular offerings.

• When local citizens complained that a swimming pool was too expensive for a small community to support, Doc & Keith and friends set out to prove the opposite. Not by landing large donations or grants, but rather by engaging friends and neighbors. 

• When Fayette needed a pharmacy, Doc’s efforts helped secure one.

• and when the Opera House needed a hand and a public supporter, Robert Nyce stepped up.

Some might wonder if it was all worth it, if the successes and failures justified the efforts.

That would be your call.  But, consider this:

• In 2008 the Fayette School District received recognition by US News and World Report.

• For nearly four decades, thousands enjoyed and took pride in the community swimming pool.

• While the pharmacy was acquired by a major chain and closed several years ago, you can still purchase flowers and gifts from a locally owned business.

• Two weeks ago a Canadian Organist brought an appreciative audience to its feet with a concert on our rare and vintage Mason & Hamlin Reed Organ and in two weeks we will open of our 39th annual Fayette Artist Series.

Over the years, Fayette honored our Doctor in many ways. We even named a street after him.  

Doc graciously accepted the honors and appreciated those efforts, but I believe what really counted in Doc’s life was the willingness of his Fayette Family to join him in responding to the challenges that faced our community.  

Doc was a part of us, just as we were a part of him. 

That mutual close relationship manifested itself in many ways, but the one that stands out in my mind is Jay’s story.  

You remember that the Fayette and Franklin school buildings were not equipped with elevators to help Jay get to his classes. While we were deficient in elevators and lifts, we did have arms.  

And it was in the arms of Jay’s friends and classmates that a young boy earned an education and grew into a young man who knew that a community cared about him.

Doc and his family profoundly appreciated that.

A while back, Doc reminded me that Fayette would continue long after he passed from this world. While certainly true, we have all been influenced by his life, and his time among us.  

Like George Bailey and Bedford Falls in the 1946 movie, “It’s A Wonderful Life”, can you imagine what Fayette would be like if Dr. Robert Nyce had never graced this place?

Last Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2011, Doc quietly slipped away.

We can choose to fondly remember this special person from time to time, to bring his name up when we need to find comfort in “the good old days.” Or we can choose to get off the sidelines and support those community institutions that improve the quality of our lives and make this place an interesting place to call home. It’s our choice. We can elect to turn off the TV or laptop and go to a concert, or support a community benefit, or share an idea or vision, or to go to church, to love your…or not.  Our choice.

The first option is simply a memory, the latter is a legacy.

  • Front.geese
    ON THE MOVE—Six goslings head out on manuevers with their parents in an area lake. Baby waterfowl are showing up in lakes and ponds throughout the area.
  • Front.little Ball
    Fayette's Demetrious Whiteside (left)Skylar Lester attempt to keep the ball from going out of bounds during Morenci's recent basketball tournament for fourth and fifth grade teams. Morenci's Andrew Schmidt stands by.
  • Front.tug
    MORENCI pep rallies generally end with a tug of war. The senior class entry, shown above, did not advance to the finals. Griffin Grieder, Alaina Webster, Kyle Long and Jazmin Smith are shown at the front of the rope, giving it their best effort.
  • Accident
    FAYETTE resident Patricia Stambaugh, 64, was declared dead on the scene of a single-vehicle accident Friday morning south of Morenci. Rescue units were called around 9 a.m., but as of Tuesday, law enforcement officers had not yet determined the time of the accident. According to Ohio State Highway Patrol, Stambaugh was driving west on U.S. 20 when her Chevrolet Malibu traveled off the north side of the road and down a steep embankment, coming to rest in Bean Creek (Tiffin River).
  • Athletic Fields
    SPORTS COMPLEX—Fayette’s outdoor athletic facilities will include three ball fields for summer recreation leagues at the southwest corner of the school. The baseball and softball fields, along with the running track, will be constructed on the east side of the school. Outdoor athletic fields were not part of the new school project from 2007, but voters approved a $1.4 million levy for a school addition and the sports fields last August. Both projects are scheduled to be complete by July 20.
  • Front.teacher Leading
    PRESCHOOL MUSIC—Fayette band director Jeffrey Dunford spends the last half hour of the day leading the full-day preschool class in musical activities. Additional photos are on page 7 of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.F.band
    TROMBONISTS Jake Myers (left) and Max Baker perform Friday at the annual Senior Citizens Luncheon at Fayette High School. The National Honor Society and the FFA chapter teamed up to serve a meal to area seniors and to provide musical entertainment. Both the school band and choir performed. Additional photos are on page 7 of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.poles
    MOVING EAST—Utility workers continue their slow progress east along U.S. 20 south of Morenci. New electrical poles are put in place before wiring is moved into place.

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