Decatur Memorial Hospital re-named the Diagnostic Radiology Department to the G. Richard Locke, M.D. Diagnostic Imaging Center at a public dedication ceremony in the hospital’s Kirkland Lobby on Jan. 14.
Dr. Locke came to Decatur Memorial in 1968 to the opening of a new cancer program. He retired in 2002, after treating thousands of patients with cancer. Dr. Locke died Aug. 29, 2009, while traveling back to Decatur from spending the summer at his Minnesota vacation home. He leaves a legacy of excellence at Decatur Memorial Hospital.
Dr. Locke was born and raised in Youngstown, Ohio, and was destined to be an academic. “Dick” (as he was affectionately called) inherited a love of learning from his parents.
An academic to his core, Dr. Locke also discovered an intense love for the outdoors, probably nurtured by his work each summer on the family’s farms in South Dakota.
In 1954, he enrolled at DePauw University in Greencastle, Ind. where he met his future wife, Judy Blang.
“As a freshman, Dick wasn’t sure if he would pursue some sort of farming career or perhaps medicine,” Judy remembers. “Blessed with a gift for patient care, Dick worked in a hospital his sophomore year and after that he decided medicine was for him.
“He loved patient care,” Judy says. “And patients loved Dick.”
After completing their undergraduate degrees, Judy and Dick were married in 1958. They moved to Cleveland where Dick had been accepted at Western Reserve Medical School and Judy taught school.
In 1961, the Locke’s had their first child and moved to Milwaukee, where Dr. Locke completed a one-year general surgery residency program.
“It was during his surgical residency that he decided he wanted to help cancer patients,” Judy said. “But not with surgery. With radiation.”
So in 1963—just after their second child was born—Dr. Locke was accepted into a four-year radiology/radiation therapy residency program in Iowa City, Iowa.
In 1965—the Locke’s third child was born and it was time to move again. This time to Ft. Monmouth, NJ. The country was involved in the Vietnam War and Dr. Locke was called to join the U.S. Army Medical Corps and serve as chief of the department of radiology at Patterson Army Hospital.
Two years later with his military service complete, their fourth child was born. It was 1968. Now what? Should he accept an academic appointment or go into private practice?
As fate would have it, Dr. Locke attended a medical conference where he met Richard E. Kinzer, MD, a radiologist from Decatur Memorial Hospital in Decatur, Ill. That hospital was opening a brand new program specific to treating cancer patients.
So with four young sons, the Locke’s moved again. This time to Decatur, Illinois.
Dr. Locke loved the position right away, Judy remembers. “And Decatur Memorial was always very supportive supplying him with the equipment and the space he needed.
“Dick liked Decatur. He could be involved in the boys’ activities and still be close to his commitments at the hospital.”
In 2002, G. Richard Locke, MD, retired. He retired from his job. What he didn’t retire was his love of medicine and his gusto for life.
In retirement, the Locke’s spent a lot of time at their “Cozy Lodge” in the Chippewa National Forest in northern Minnesota where he worked the land by day and played his trumpet at night.
“Dick didn’t spend a lot of time sitting,” Judy says. “He fished, skied, swam, canoed, kayaked, and baited a lot of hooks—for four growing boys.
“But what Dick really loved was the time he spent with his boys. They would all sit on the dock and chat about medicine. He was so proud of their accomplishments.”
And then there was golf.
“Dick loved to golf,” Judy says. “He always treated special occasions as a reason to golf.”
On Aug. 29, 2009, after spending the summer in Minnesota, Dr. Locke passed away suddenly.
“He is buried in South Dakota with generations of Lockes,” Judy says. “He had a great life—we had a great life.”