Lubbock men spent lives serving others
Dr. Donald Bricker
1935 - present
Dr. John Selby
1919 - present
These two heart surgeons brought South Plains medicine into the modern age. Their scalpels and skills have extended or saved the lives of thousands of residents.
Selby graduated from Dartmouth and from Boston University’s med school in 1944. Driven by a desire to learn more about the human heart and to advance cardiac medicine, he was certified in thoracic surgery in 1954.
A colleague persuaded Selby to move from Boston to Lubbock in 1952. “I think he really convinced me because of the need,” Selby said in an interview early this year. The nearest location for heart surgery was Dallas.
By the time he put down his scalpel in the 1980s he had collected more than 35,000 patient charts.
Bricker, a country boy at heart, wanted to be a veterinarian but a college professor saw his talent and steered him to Cornell’s medical school. He did his residency under Dr. Michael DeBakey, at the time one of the nation’s few heart surgeons. In 1970 Dr. Robert Salem lured Bricker away from Ben Taub Hospital in Houston to Lubbock.
He retired in 2007 after 50 years of practice and more than 7,000 surgeries.
1930 - 1987
Theodore Phea spent his lifetime molding boys into men.
“He treated others as he wanted to be treated and believed that anyone could accomplish their heart’s desire,” his wife remembered in a 2000 A-J interview.
Phea graduated from Texas College in Tyler in 1954 and immediately accepted the job as unit director of the South Plains Boys Club serving the Dunbar community until his death in 1987. Other than a stint in the Army it was his lifetime career.
“He was interested in making men,” his wife recalled. “Not just maturing them physically, but he wanted them to learn the responsibility of what that role carries as well.”
His dedication to the community extended to church and civic organizations. He served in many administrative positions at Carter Chapel C.M.E. He volunteered with Goodfellows and was a member of Lions Club where he was named Lion of the Year in 1976. Phea also served on Texas College’s board of trustees.
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