David Moomaw, M.D.

David Moomaw, M.D.

Dr. David Moomaw, 90, has a wealth of memories of practicing medicine in Riverside/Avondale since moving here in 1955 and until his retirement in 1996. He started his private internal medicine and cardiology practice in the Medical Arts Building at 5 Points where he stayed for 20 years, before joining a group practice that included Dr. George Anderson and Dr. Robert Van Cleve at the nearby Riverside Clinic.

“I came to Jacksonville because my friend and colleague at Northwestern University Medical School, the late radiologist Marvin McClow, M.D., had moved to Jacksonville and urged me to come here too. He described Jacksonville as the most wonderful place and said that Riverside had an excellent medical community, well-trained physicians and a beautiful historic district of older homes conveniently located nearby,” Dr. Moomaw said. “He and his wife Pat built their home on Ortega Forest Drive. I always greatly admired Dr. McClow for his leadership in promoting the development and practice of mammography technology in Jacksonville.”

the-way-we-where1Dr. McClow’s wife Pat, 89, still resides in Ortega and remains in touch with the Moomaws. The McClows had three children and their son John, his wife Lynn and their two children now reside in the Ortega Forest family home.

The Moomaws first moved into an apartment on Aberdeen Street in Avondale, then spent 13 years living on Ortega Boulevard. Their last move was to a stately, circa 1923 home near Boone Park for the past 45 years. The couple raised three daughters: Dr. Ellen Moomaw, University of Georgia Biochemistry Professor, Audrey Moomaw Ainsworth of Avondale (husband is Dr. William Ainsworth and their three children), and Fran Moomaw Wulbern of Ortega who teaches at Riverside Presbyterian Day School (husband is Allan Wulbern and their two children). The Moomaws also have three great-grandchildren.

Dr. Moomaw was keenly aware of the importance of medical advances during the 1940s that seemed accelerated due to the war. He describes the most important as the discovery of penicillin, surgical techniques including open chest procedures, anti-malarial drugs, replacement intravenous fluids, blood transfusions, cardiac catheterization and modern coronary care.

Key events in Moomaw’s long medical career include: in 1966 as St. Vincent’s Medical Center Chairman of Internal Medicine he developed the first coronary and critical care units, leading to coronary catheterization and the first coronary artery bypass surgery done locally; the first electrical cardioversion of a critical heart rhythm disorder in Jacksonville was successfully performed on one of Dr. Moomaw’s patients who survived to enjoy 17 more years. Moomaw helped develop the Jacksonville Hospitals Education Program (JHEP) and St. Vincent’s Family Practice Residency Training Program.

After his retirement, Moomaw served 15 years as volunteer director for Healing Hands, a medical clinic and emergency dental care clinic for the uninsured. He received the George S. Trotter, M.D. Founder’s Award for his service to the clinic on Timuquana Road. His lifetime of caring for patients and service to the community seems a legacy from his missionary parents. Moomaw grew up in Gujarat, India where his agricultural economist father founded a Vocational Training College and was honored by both the Indian and British Governments.

Moomaw’s exotic childhood included kindergarten in Darjeeling with a view of Mt. Everest and Landour International School, near the Tibetan border within sight of Garhwal Himalaya Mountains. Surrounded by such natural wonders, Moomaw mountain-climbed, boated and biked through the wilderness. Yet he describes his most daunting adventure as leaving India and traveling to the U.S. alone, at 16, to complete his education near family in a small Indiana town.

His calm professional physician’s voice registers some spitfire and amazement at the memory of traveling across the world to a new life as an American teen in an accelerated pre-medical program at Manchester College. In 1943, at 19 he was drafted and sent from Fort Benjamin Harrison directly to Northwestern University Medical School to complete his medical training by a military in desperate need of physicians.

Moomaw served as a medical officer during the Korean War from 1950-1953, stationed at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, AL. There he experienced love at first sight when he met and married a beautiful civilian employee, his wife Jeanne. After his military service, Moomaw returned to Northwestern University Medical School to teach before deciding to leave academia and move to Jacksonville. The couple recently celebrated their 61st wedding anniversary.

The doctor is quick to credit “Mama Jeanne” with helping him manage his medical practice for 30 years. Jeanne also volunteered for years at the St. John’s Terrace Home retirement center on St. Johns Avenue. She served as Jacksonville Symphony Guild Board Chairman.

The Moomaws enjoy working out and attending exercise classes at Timuquana Country Club or watching movies in their home theatre with family and movie-buff friends. They like get-togethers with their 45-year neighbors across the street, George and Judy Gabel, or their many other friends.

By Julie Kerns Garmendia
Resident Community News

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