2018 George Sorrells, Jr., MD Community Physician Award Recipient: Kenneth E. Bobb, MD’52
By Matthew Harris
Eighteen years ago, Ruth Ann Rebber and the Jackson County United Way wanted to meet the needs of uninsured residents. The solution was simple: establish a community health clinic. Making it happen required some help.
Rebber, who was the chapter’s director, knew the ideal person. So she dialed up Kenneth E. Bobb, MD ’52, who served as the county’s health director and had been a family physician in Seymour for over four decades.
With his guidance and a partnership with the Community Foundation of Jackson County, the United Way was able to start up a federally-qualified health center in 2003. Four years later, the center moved into a remodeled space, and only then did Dr. Bobb, who had acted as medical director, step away.
“His work is never-ending, supportive and always, always directed to better health for our entire community,” Rebber said.
Dr. Bobb’s commitment started in 1955 when he returned home to Seymour after a two-year stint as a medical officer for the U.S. Air Force during the Korean War. He’d been away for nine years, off earning his bachelor’s degree at IU and completing medical school before military service. He wouldn’t leave again.
He set up his practice on South Chestnut Street, just a block away from Jackson County Hospital, now called Schneck Medical Center, where he had staff privileges until 2010. Over the next 44 years, Dr. Bobb general practice would deliver more 2,000 babies and administered anesthesia more than 10,000 times.
But like many primary care physicians in rural communities, Dr. Bobb’s reach wasn’t limited to his office. For 43 years, he lent his expertise as medical director to Lutheran Community Home, a non-profit organization that today provides assisted living and skilled nursing to elderly residents. In 1994, Dr. Bobb created a hospice program at Schneck, handling its operations for 16 years.
One year later, Dr. Bobb led fundraisers for his church as well as the local Boys and Girls Club, which raised $1.8 million and $250,000 respectively. And after leaving his full-time practice in 1999, he was installed as the county’s health commissioner.
“Not only has he done his utmost to provide the best, most professional, and most current medical care, he also does it from a heart that sees this not only as a job but as a calling in life,” said Rev. Ralph Blomenberg, who has worked closely with Dr. Bobb at Immanuel Lutheran Church. “Because of this, he has often taken time outside of office hours to be available for those who need him.”
Dr. Bobb was honored during the 71st Annual Strawberry Shortcake Luncheon on Saturday, May 19, 2018 in Indianapolis.