TCOM’s first class president still going strong after 46 years

By Steven Bartolotta

Ray, David Web

He’s been practicing family medicine for 46 years, delivered over 1,000 babies and worked in his hometown for 44 years. He’s practically a member of the family to everyone in Bridgeport, Texas.

Dr. David A. Ray, the class president of TCOM’s first graduating class in 1974, is an osteopathic physician for the ages. He can remember vividly the first days of TCOM in October of 1970, but also the effort it took to bring the school to fruition.

“There was an unbelievable amount of support and personal sacrifice in time and money from the local physicians who supported the opening of TCOM,” Dr. Ray said.

The sacrifices were plenty, but Dr. Ray recalls one memorable moment in the early days of class in the bowling alley.

“On the first morning in use as a classroom, the entry door that led from lobby into lanes opened while Dr. Everett was presenting a slide show and lecture,” Dr. Ray said, referring to Dr. Carl E. Everett, one of the founders of TCOM. “Everyone turned to look at the open door, and a rather pudgy silhouette of a man, carrying a bowling bag, said loudly, ‘Where are the lanes?’ Without further comment, he quickly left and closed the door.  Dr. Everett continued the lecture without missing a word.”

Dr. Ray was elected TCOM’s first Class President, an honor bestowed upon him by his fellow trailblazing students as the soon-to-be first osteopathic medical graduates in the State of Texas.

After graduation, he spent his first two years in Snyder, Texas, working with Dr. David Wiman, a fellow TCOM graduate, who taught him a simple, but profound fact.

“He said if you do not love your patients, you will not be happy as a physician,” Dr. Ray said. “Remember, even though these people are not perfect, they are giving you a great honor to be their personal physician.”

After two years in Snyder, Dr. Ray returned to his hometown of Bridgeport, where he has been practicing family medicine since 1976 and has no intentions of slowing down. He’s unfazed by the current pandemic, despite his increased risk because of age.

“I want to keep practicing as long as I am physically and mentally capable of doing my job,” he said.

Dr. Ray was part of a new osteopathic adventure 50 years ago and was a cornerstone to TCOM and the future generations that followed. He has never forgotten where he came from and how much it means to contribute to the next generation, with a few timeless truths.

“Never pass up an opportunity to add to your knowledge,” Dr. Ray said, addressing medical students and future colleagues. “Always respect fellow physicians. They are the only ones who know what is entailed in your profession. Always tell the truth.”

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