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If You're From Tonganoxie, Kansas, You Probably Know This Doctor (Or His Legacy)

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Rebekah Hange
/
KCUR 89.8
In Dr. Philip L. Stevens office in Tonganoxie, visitors can see a wall of many of the babies the doctor has delivered.

When Dr. Philip L. Stevens, the family doctor in Tonganoxie, Kansas, passed away in 2015, his family decided his office was worth preserving. After 60 years in practice in the small town 35 miles west of Kansas City, he'd delivered generations of babies and cared for just about everybody in town.

Doc Stevens was beloved in Tonganoxie. He was considered a pillar of the community. 

Leaving his examining table, medical instruments and scale just as they'd been for decades, Doc Steven's family created a mini-museum after his death.

To keep the building open, the family turned the small waiting room into a novelty soda pop shop, where you can find some of your favorite old-time varieties: Squirt, Crush, Frostie Root Beer.

The doctor's grandson, Simon Stevens, sometimes minds the shop. Visitors come in and see the worn cardboard box filled with small blocks and share stories of playing with them as children. 

"They talk to me for sometimes 45 minutes about their experience with my grandpa," he says. "Sometimes I’ll have to hold back tears, because its so sweet."

The doctor's wife Betty, 88, remembers getting up with her husband in the middle of the night, waiting until he got home from calls to deliver a baby or tend to a medical emergency. He got to know all his patients personally, she says, and frequently their children, even grandchildren. He cared about every one.

Doc died in his sleep after what turned out to be his last day of work. It happened to be his 60th work aniversary. 

For 60 Years, Dr. Philip Stevens Took Care Of Tonganoxie, Kansas from KCUR 89.3 on Vimeo.

Laura Ziegler is a community engagement reporter and producer. You can reach her via email at lauraz@kcur.org or via twitter @laurazig.

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