Dr. Michael A. Hogan, 1931-2007

Dateline: Tue 29 May 2007

It's hard to believe that the vibrant, knowledgable, helpful, witty, funny, no-nonsense, larger-than-life and infinitely kind presence known in our family as "Doc Hoag" has died. He was pediatrician to generations, and we were fortunate enough to find his practice in Indy in 1978. We had moved here from Evansville, and I was desperately seeking a physician supportive of breast-feeding. Not only was he that, but he took care of all three of our kids over a span of many years -- Andrew, Zera "Zeke" and Elizabeth "Bessie," until they turned 18, more or less.

He had some great lines in his day: "To hear my patients' parents talk, every gifted child lives on the Northside of Indianapolis." "If he can't swallow that, I have a needle about this big..." "Bessie, if you can't be quiet, you may leave the room now. I am here to examine your brother, not listen to you."

But he also said to me, during a visit, when I was working nights, worn down, "How are you?" When I muttered fine, he peered at me seriously and said, "No, I mean it. How are YOU?" That was not a question, I fear, many young mothers were asked by pediatricians. But then he always took care of the whole family.

I still see him as he was: in a blue oxford shirt, a tie, khaki pants, rocking on his heels, and always with a smile playing at his mouth and a humorous comment about to burst forth. Sardonic, genuinely funny, fascinated by life. He let us know where he came from on more than one level: Catholic, an older son in a big family, self-made, a Navy man, a pharmacist before he became a physician, a devoted husband, a father of three boys. He imparted this subtly, over the years; he was also a very fine and discerning listener.

So it was with deep sorrow but great respect that I attended his funeral today at St. Luke Catholic Church, where I have lived to see others I cared for go to a final rest. The service was dignified, as he would have wanted it. The Rev. Steven Giannini chose the Beatitudes for the Gospel reading on which his sermon was based. Father noted that Dr. Hogan's widow, the red-haired Mary Ann, told him the day before, "Oh, good. That is my favorite."

Michael Hogan was a blessing, said the priest, and that pretty much sums it up. He is gone, age 76, from complications of some sort of kidney ailment. But in my mind, he will always be in his office at 8801 N. Meridian (and a previous office and a subsequent one), with nurses Rosie or Irma, a twinkle in his dark Irish eyes, dispensing good medicine and good will and good wit. Always kind, infinitely caring.

God bless him and his family. We are very grateful for his life and witness.

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