David Charp, M.D.

David Charp, M.D.

Class: 1960Inducted: 2018

I had an academic scholarship to Rutgers, but it was not enough to reside on campus so for the first two years I commuted from home. Early in my junior year I tried out and made the Rutgers baseball team, eventually playing center field and pitching. The coach arranged a baseball scholarship, so I was able to live most of the last two years at the school, saving a daily three hour commute.

During the summer after graduation, at the Wonder Bar food concession on the Asbury oceanfront, I hired Gail, an 18 year old college sophomore beauty visiting from Philadelphia. After working together for 7 days we announced our soon-to- be wedding. In Sept. we went off to the Univ. of Pittsburgh, she to continue as an undergraduate, me to start medical school.

My senior year letter of recommendation was written by the no nonsense, very brilliant Jack Myers, M.D., Chief of Medicine and President of the Amer. Col. of Physicians. He wrote I probably was smart enough, but certainly had the compassion in my heart, to be a good doctor. I hope I’ve never let him down. Internship was in San Francisco and on arriving there, now with two babies, our old car fell apart. One year later we were off to a remote southwest Indian reservation, 45 miles to the closest small town, for a two year commitment as a doctor in the U.S. Public Health Service. I can’t remember so well the 200 babies I delivered, but I remember very well the two I lost. A doctor has his own private cemetery.

Then back to California for two more year’s specialty training and we had a 3rd child. I practiced Internal Medicine for almost 40 years, my wife working with me for most of the years and my daughter the last 17. I never sent a patient to a collection agency, never hassled anyone about a bill, made 3,000 house calls, volunteered for 12 years at our high school as the doctor and watched at least 200 doctor-in- attendance-required football games. I retired on the day of my 70th birthday.

I then worked with four doctors to start the Santa Rosa Free Medical Clinic, 3½ years ago. We’re all volunteers, the clinic supported by contributions, and all medical care, lab tests, X Rays and medicines are 100% free. I am the Monday doctor. Soon we will have seen 10,000 patients, from as far away as 100 miles. Our organization is being used as a template for other clinics to start a similar program in northern and central California. We do not need any government money.

Gail and I have a fully trained, California licensed, "Comfort Dog." She’s been in helicopters and fire engines at the scenes of tragedy and disaster. In the recent Oct. 2017 massive Santa Rosa fire, where 6000 homes and businesses were destroyed, she proved her worth to children who lost their home and to some of the 11,000 firefighters who were holding the fire line around our city.

At age 60 I again picked up a baseball, playing in the 12 team, over age 60 division, in the 700 member Northern California Baseball League. From baseball I needed at different times two shoulder operations, an operation to have a plate placed in the back of my broken hand, a knee operation, 4 broken fingers, and a broken ankle. But in return I got to pitch in many major league and spring training stadiums, pitch with and against former major league ballplayers, twice voted Most Valuable Player and four times, including this year, Best Pitcher. Our team record this year was 20 wins, no loss.

The greatest gift I was ever given was Gail, always my kind partner, always my guiding light. My reflection on life: Life is like baseball. You get a chance to be up at the plate. It’s OK to swing and miss, but never let it be that you are called "Out" by keeping the bat on your shoulder and taking, but not swinging, at what will be the 3rd strike. Swing away.