Patient Gives Back to Mayo Clinic for 90 Years of “Excellent Care” #ThrowbackThursday

Dick Garbisch hit a milestone that not many do: his 100th birthday. (He celebrated, naturally, by buying himself a new car, which he drives, himself.) For 90 of those years, Mayo Clinic has been a part of his story.

Mr. Garbisch first came to Mayo as a patient when he was 10 years old. "I wasn't growing fast enough, and so the initial history just states that the doctor said, 'Just look at his feet. He'll grow up and be tall,'" he says. In the years since, Mr. Garbisch has garnered many more stories about the care he’s received at Mayo Clinic.

Like the time his parents brought him to Rochester to have his tonsils removed. "I must have been 15, 16 years old," he says. The night before the procedure, he checked in early and was told by a nurse he could leave for a few hours. "I walked down to what would have been the Worrall Hospital and got a cantaloupe sundae," he says. "I’ll never forget it. Oh, was that good! But what a mistake!" Mr. Garbisch says the next morning that sundae paid him another visit. "It was horrible," he says.

He also recalls the time when the Sisters at Saint Marys Hospital wouldn't let him into the delivery room for the birth of one of the four children he and his first wife, Marjorie, had at Mayo Clinic. "Sister Samuel (the first supervisor of Saint Marys' Obstetrics service) came out carrying this little bundle," he says. "And I said, 'Don't drop him!'"

Many years later, Mr. and Mrs. Garbisch decided they wanted to be near Mayo Clinic should their own health start to fail, so they got "a small apartment" at Charter House. That day came sooner than expected, when Marjorie began experiencing early symptoms of dementia and then had a stroke. "It was just a godsend because we got her down here (to Charter House), they had excellent care," he tells us.

It was there that Mr. Garbisch first met his second wife, Audrey. Her first husband was living at Charter House, where Audrey visited him every day. "Of course, I was there seeing Marge every day. So we’d just say, 'Hi, how are things going?' Things like that." After their spouses passed away, Mr. Garbisch says he and Audrey continued to stay in touch. "From there on, our mutual affection for each other, I think, took off," he says. "We’ve been married for 16 years now."

To show his appreciation for the "excellent care" he’s received from Mayo, in 1997, through a charitable trust, Dick and Marjorie Garbisch established the Crabb-Garbisch Endowed Scholarship in the Mayo Clinic School of Medicine. The scholarship was created, in part, to help alleviate the financial strain of medical school. And in 2005, Dick and Audrey Garbisch established the Richard G. and Audrey A. Higgins Garbisch Physician-Scientist Scholarship in the Mayo Clinic Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences. "It's well worth it to let the kids blossom, go where they want to go, and practice the way they'd like," Mr. Garbisch says. It also means that, for the recipients of the scholarships, Mayo will be an important part of their life stories, as well.

Alyssa Frank

Alyssa Frank is a Marketing Segment Manager at Mayo Clinic Laboratories. She leads marketing strategies for product management and specialty testing. Alyssa has worked at Mayo Clinic since 2015.