As I pore over the powerful words of an outlier we recently interviewed for the upcoming book Outliers in Medicine, I get a bit misty eyed thinking that he recently passed, and all that he accomplished in his lifetime. He was the grandfather of a colleague here at the Outlier Series, and as soon as we heard stories about Dr. Cromer- his service to our country as a US Veteran, his 60 years practicing as a family physician, his involvement in the community, the American Medical Association, the Antigo Unified School Board, and more Dr. Shufeldt immediately asked if we could secure an interview about his perspective on his career for prospective medical students. I’m so glad we got the chance; our interview took place in the early part of 2014, and he passed shortly after on June 25, 2014. He retired from his private family medical practice 9 days before his passing at the age of 88.
Dr. Robert Warren Cromer’s words from the recent interview are especially touching this Veteran’s Day, as we think about those, like him, who served as well as those who gave their lives for our country. Dr. Cromer served in the 78th Infantry Division during World War II. After sustaining an injury in the Battle of the Bulge, he was discharged from the military and was awarded the Purple Heart Medal for his service. It was after sustaining his injury, during the five to six months he spent in military hospitals, when he decided he wanted to be a doctor. He then returned to Northwestern University, where he completed his undergraduate studies and attended medical school.
As I look at the below quote, not having the advantage of his perspective, I take it as a message to me and all of us. Similarly, as Mary Oliver said it, “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” Read his quote below, and take to heart what it might mean for you:
“I decided to be a doctor after the war… I was a combat infantry man in World War II. And, when your friends are killed and you survive, it does something to you. It makes you think to yourself that your life has been spared and you can’t waste it. You owe it to your buddies to do something with it the best that you can.” – Dr. Robert Cromer
Please join us in honor of Veterans Day by sharing about a veteran close to your heart below.
Dr. Robert Cromer’s Bio
Dr. Robert Warren Cromer, 1926-2014, was a family physician for 60 years in Antigo. He is best remembered by his devotion to medicine, his love of nature, his service to his country, and his dedication to balancing his work and family life.
Robert’s education started when he attended Northwestern University. Following a year of college, he joined the US Army and served in the 78th Infantry Division during World War II. After sustaining an injury in the Battle of the Bulge, Robert was discharged from the military and was awarded the Purple Heart Medal for his service. It was after sustaining his injury, during the five to six months he spent in military hospitals, when Robert decided he wanted to be a doctor. He then returned to Northwestern University, where he completed his undergraduate studies and attended medical school. His internship took place at Cook County Hospital in Chicago.
In 1954, Robert and his family moved to Antigo, where we worked as a family practice physician for 60 years. During that time, Robert delivered over 3,000 babies and saw tens of thousands of patients. In 1968, Robert established the clinic at the Antigo Medical Building. He operated the clinic until his retirement on June 16, 2014.
As an active member of the community, Robert was a member of the Langlade County Medical Society, the American Medical Association, and a member of the Antigo Unified District School Board. He had a passion for nature and was an avid mountain-climber, hiker, and fisherman.
Dr. Robert Warren Cromer passed away on June 25, 2014 at Aspirus Wausau Hospital at the age of 88.
Heidi Cromer Arnold says
Thank you for this beautiful tribute…
Steven Cromer says
Thank you for writing this amazing article on my grandfather. I appreciate and admire the affect he had on not only my life but so many others. I doubt he ever thought his achievements were achievements at all because they were things he endured like war and his work was a hobby. He loved what he did and he did it until the day he died.
Steven, that’s so cool, thanks for your perspective as his grandson! His words profoundly effected me in the interview and I’m excited to see how others can benefit from his wisdom in the future.