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  • Bill Chastain

TOYS AND GAMES: Dr. Greiwe, Everybody’s Doctor

Among the charms of South Tampa is being able to live in a small town atmosphere while being located in the midst of a big city.

People know people in small towns.

Grocery story trips are social occasions. Guys you went to high school with fill up next to you at the gas station. Familiar faces are everywhere, whether you’re sitting on a bar stool or eating at a restaurant. I know that’s the way it’s been for me growing up in South Tampa then continuing to call the place home.

In small towns, you also know your doctor. And every kid I knew went to the same guy: Dr. Thomas Greiwe.

He was everybody’s doctor.

My mother began taking my brothers and me to Dr. Greiwe in the mid 1960s. Later Patti and I became parents and we began taking our kids to him. Through those years I came to know a man who cared about his patients and worked as doctor for the right reasons. All the while he performed his tasks with a grace that seemed to come easily to him. You looked up to Dr. Greiwe and wanted to be like him. Who wouldn’t want to be like the confident and handsome doctor, who was also an athlete and had a sense of style? Most of the kids I knew thought he resembled John Kennedy.

Later I had the privilege of knowing him as an adult. We talked about fitness (he remained trim) and sports — he loved discussing the fortunes of Notre Dame football and the Cincinnati Reds, but mostly we talked about people we knew, many of whom had been his patients. Often he would inquire how they were doing because he had not seen them in a while. He always spoke softly as if telling a mother her son had the flu.

During our chats, I’m happy to report, I had the opportunity to convey what a comfort having him as a doctor had been for one scrawny South Tampa kid. I’m certain countless others feel the same way.

Dr. Greiwe died over the weekend. His funeral will take place at Christ the King on Thursday. No doubt legions will turn out to pay tribute to the doctor who cared for generations of South Tampa’s youth. He leaves a lasting legacy in the small town where he impacted so many lives.

bchastain19@gmail.com

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©2020 by Bill Chastain. Photo credits: Jill Doty Photography