Dr. John Biery is shown with the balloons given to him as part of his retirement party last Friday. (Putnam Sentinel/Nancy Kline)
Dr. John Biery is shown with the balloons given to him as part of his retirement party last Friday. (Putnam Sentinel/Nancy Kline)

OTTAWA — Nearly 40 years after opening his office in Ottawa, Dr. John Biery, was saying good-bye to patients and preparing for his retirement last Friday.

“I’ve always enjoyed being a doctor,’ said Dr. Biery. “It’s never been a job, It’s always been fun.”

Dr. John Biery came to Ottawa in 1975 for family medicine, sports injuries, obstetrics and minor surgery. He said his choice to become a doctor began when he saw the things his father, who was also a doctor, could do for others. “It made an impact on me,” he said.

Dr. Biery said he was attending college and making the dean’s list, when he decided to quit college and join the Air Force. “It was the Vietnam Era and I knew I could be drafted otherwise.”

He told the Air Force he wanted to be a medic and wanted to go to tech school. He tested high enough to choose his tech school and chose to go to England.

“I wanted to go where they spoke the same language,” he admitted.

Dr. Biery said he spent four years with the Air Force as a “bed pan commando.”

“I learned all kinds of stuff like how to make baby formula, how to clean diapers correctly. Just everything.”

“From there I felt like I really knew this wastwhat I wanted to do”

He used the GI Bill to pay for his undergraduate schooling and half of his medical school.

Dr. Biery went to undergraduate school at Truman State University where he obtained his bachelor of science degree and earned his medical degree from Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine. He is board certified in family medicine.

It was while serving in the military he became interested in sports injuries. “I played football in the service,” he said. It just grew from there. I was seeing guys get better faster with special treatment.”

While still in school in he was dubbed as a “doctor” as he helped the Chiefs in Kansas City.

“I traveled with them taping ankles, helping with rehabilitation and doing joint injections.” Dr. Biery said the team had a head doctor who taught him quite a bit and allowed him to work with the players.

Dr. Biery’s career has spanned many years with numerous teams. He served as the team physician for Bowling Green State University’s football team. He served as the team doctor at Ottawa-Glandorf for 22 years. He has also served with Upper Scioto Valley Schools, and the University of Findlay.

In 1988 he served with the U.S. Olympic Team at the Colorado Springs training facility.

“It was an application process,” Dr. Biery explained. “Basically you auditioned for the job.”

He recalls working on one swimmer’s shoulder and later watching the swimmer win a gold medal in Seoul Korea.

“”I told my wife Cathy I knew that kid. I treated him.”

Dr. Biery said it has always been important to make sure the kids didn’t do anything in that would cause further harm. “I had to make decisions on whether someone could still play after being injured during and after events.”

“Now the emphasis is on concussions,” he said. “I was reading an article from 1986 and they were talking about concussions back then.” Dr. Biery said

“Kids think they are invincible,” he said. “When we see concussions we can see their grades go down and memory loss. We don’t want that.”

He said he is also talking to his own grandson about the dangers of concussions.

“He had a head injury and admitted to me he was unconscious for a while,” “I’ve told him I don’t think it is wise for him to play football this season. “

Dr. Biery expressed his appreciation to his family for all of their support through the years including his wife Cathy, his son Dr. John Biery, and his daughter Allison Johnson.

“They’ve always been very supportive,” he said.

His son is also a doctor. “That’s the third generation of doctors in our family,” Dr. Biery said proudly.