Contributor: Galen Wagner
I learned to know Bess in a very special way during the years after Dr. Stead "retired" in 1967. Bess continued as his secretary until he finally closed his Duke office.
One day in the early 1990's, Bess gave me this picture of herself and Dr. Stead at his desk, just as they were almost every day in the late 1970's. Bess supplied me with the copies of Dr. Stead's papers and correspondence. She also carefully edited every word of "What this patient needs is a Doctor."
She kindly allowed me a taped interview of the "organization of her office." This "Bess and Dr. Stead" story helped me understand how she ran the departmental office for most of the twenty years of his chairmanship.
Ladd Hamrick and Bob McWhorter were Stead house officers together and then founded the H & M practice in Concord North Carolina. Ladd, with Bob solidly in support, initiated a Duke-Cabarrus County co-educational program in 1973. Bob died and Ladd retired from practice. At that time the Cabarrus medical community dedicated the Hamrick Theater in their new Northeast Medical Center to Ladd.
I provided this tribute along with those from others in the Duke and the Cabarrus community during the dedication ceremony.
Ladd, you came here in mid century With your dear friend Bob McWhorter And you gave Cabarrus all the gifts you had
The Chief of the Chief (Bess Cebe)
When Bess died suddenly, her dear son, "Pete" and his family from California and Bess' family from Missouri joined Dr. Stead and Bess' Duke family at a memorial service. I provided this celebration of Bess and of her amazing partnership with Dr. Stead.
Maybe in heaven or maybe in hell Or places above or beneath, There's a chief out there with an icy blue stare And Bess is the Chief of the Chief. They sit at her desk from 8:30 'til 9 And together make plans for each day; 'Cause the white pants troupes need two leaders to teach how To doctor earth's sickness away. One leader is big and walks through the halls And the other is small and sits still. He goes out among us but we come to her Whenever a doctor feels ill. 'Cause a patient needs a doctor and a doctor needs a Bess Still today as through all the old years; A calm powerful listener to all of our sins In her sitting room's laughter or tears. Through Duke's Baker House to the Forest at Duke To wherever she's sitting there yet, She's the Chief of the Chief and there'll not be another, To lead us by just being Bess.
Those of us on the Stead housestaff in 1965-66 were so fortunate to have Earl Metz at Duke and Bruni Herrero at the VA as our chief residents.
Bruni died two years ago. Last year Earl returned to lead a reunion for us and to honor Bruni. I wrote this poem to express my recollection of the "Bruni experience."
The outlook wasn't brilliant for the 6A team that day. The time was 10 to midnight, and two more were on the way. The student said he'd worked enough, and had to get some sleep. The intern now was getting his, curled up in a heap. The JAR came on this scene, and shouted, "Life is hard, You'd better get your asses up, cause Bruni's on the ward." All came suddenly alive, some energy they found. The Chief they so respected had come to make his rounds. His white pants were a little tight, his black hair long and wild. His voice boomed out with street jive, excited as a child. "Come on you cats 1, let's walk around and see what's needing done. Grab yourselves "black medicine," 2 so we can have some fun. It's time to let it all hang out 3, there's patients on the way. You've stroked it gently in the corner 4 up till now today." The intern just began this week; he hadn't any clue Of what the Chief expected that a Doctor ought to do. He took us to his patient, admitted just that night: "This stroke is tough to figure out, he says he's lost his sight." Bruni scowled and fumed and snorted; froze the intern in his stare: "I see a wonderful gentleman who needs your loving care." That intern would not be the same: he'd no more treat a "stroke." He'd learned from Master Bruni, that doctoring's no joke. You get your fun by giving care to all who come your way. "Since you don't know what caused his stroke", the team heard Bruni say, "Schmoodiakapoulis 5 should be added to your list. Maybe deep in his left fundus is the embolus you missed." Cause "schmoodiakapoulis" means there's something more to find Of why this man has had his stroke, and why he's going blind." Bruni knows "Big Daddy" 6 chose him, so he has a sacred trust: To teach us how to Doctor, so we earn patients' trust. When our year was over, and honors passed around, We interns gave our chief a gift: a hubcap we had found. Like him, it was a Cadillac; the finest model known. And all us interns signed it, cause we'd been "Bruni grown." Oh, elsewhere in that favored land, night call was one in four; And house staff learned about disease; the patient was ignored. But we, in that far distant time, in Duke's Durham VA Learned Doctoring five of seven, when Bruni came our way.Definitions from Bruni's dictionary: