Dr. Richard Preston has made a “bittersweet” decision – bitter in that he will miss his patients and colleagues, and sweet in that he will have more time with his wife, kids and grandkids. He has announced his retirement, effective Saturday, May 21.
A reception will be scheduled within the next few weeks.
Dr. Preston was one of three physicians at Great Bend Internists, which is owned by St. Rose Ambulatory & Surgery Center. He practiced with Dr. Jean Pringle and Dr. James McReynolds, and also was the team doctor for the Great Bend High School Athletic Department.
“I will greatly miss everyone,” Dr. Preston commented. “My patients and their families have been an integral part of my life and I am grateful for the many years we have shared together.
“But now I want to spend more time with my dear wife, Marilyn, and the rest of our family,” he added. “I may even find time to do a little gardening.”
St. Rose is actively recruiting for another physician but in the meantime, patients may choose one of the other physicians as their internist.
Dr. Preston has been practicing medicine in Great Bend since 1977, when he joined Dr. John Holt in his already-established office. The two met while Dr. Preston was stationed at the West Point Military Academy Hospital in New York.
In 1989, Dr. Holt moved to Wichita and Dr. Preston recruited Dr. Roger Peck from Russell. They bought the practice from Dr. Holt and sold it to Central Kansas Medical Center in 1995 when it became Great Bend Internists. (CKMC’s name changed to St. Rose on May 1.)
“We decided it was better to be employed by a facility than trying to run a medical practice and a business with only two people,” Dr. Preston explained. “This relieved us of the obligation to run the business part of it.”
Dr. Preston graduated from Macksville High School in 1960, and like most teenagers with a new diploma, he wasn’t sure what he wanted to do with his professional life. Since the Space Race was just blasting off, he thought engineering may be just the thing.
“I had a football scholarship to Hutchinson Community College and started in the engineering curriculum,” Dr. Preston said. “After two years of that, I decided it was not what I was cut out to be. I was not cut out to be a football player either.”
He transferred to the University of Kansas, where he earned a psychology degree in 1965. The next stop was the KU School of Medicine, where he earned his M.D. in 1969.
“By that time, Vietnam was on,” Dr. Preston recalled. “There was not a general draft at the time but there was a physician draft. A lot of medical students took the opportunity to train in the military and actually get paid for the last year of medical school. But then we had a four-year military obligation.”
He was commissioned in the Army Reserves and soon went to the Fitzsimons Army Medical Center at Denver and completed his internship and internal-medicine residency.
“By this time, Vietnam was over and I went to northern Italy for three years,” the internist said. “They had a small hospital there and it was well located between Venice and Verona, and Marilyn and I traveled all over.”
Marilyn suffered a stroke in Wichita 10 years ago. “She can do a lot of things but there are some things she can’t do, such as drive,” he said. “This situation is difficult for anybody but it hasn’t slowed us down a lot. I am a Shriner and we have traveled with them. I have pushed Marilyn’s wheelchair all over the world.”
The Prestons were married in 1962, and have two daughters, Anne and Amy. Anne and her husband, Bill Paden, have two sons and live here; Amy and Britt Guthrie also have two sons and live in Stillwater, Okla.
Jay, the Prestons’ son, suffered a heart attack and passed away more than four years ago. Jay’s three children live with their mother in Great Bend.