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Joe McQuaid's Publisher's Notebook: Fortunate to have known the Koop family


Before Dr. C. Everett Koop was U.S. Surgeon General, with a very cool uniform, he practiced on me.

Dr. Koop died at age 96 at his Hanover home last week. He was a New Hampshireman in a lot of ways. His name even popped up last week in a story about a new ski film produced at Dartmouth, where he was an undergrad in the 1930s, and where, I'm guessing, he first fell in love with our outdoors.

Dr. Koop's oldest son, Allen, also went to Dartmouth and spent summers working for the Appalachian Mountain Club in the White Mountains. Allen's younger brothers, Norm and Dave, also caught the mountain bug and worked with me and current general manager, Charlie Kenison, at the Mt. Washington Cog Railway.

Which is why I found myself one Thanksgiving weekend lying on the living room rug of the Koops' Philadelphia home, with Dr. Koop poking and prodding my stomach while son Norm watched.

We had been playing touch football on the doctor's lawn when the pain increased. I thought my girlfriend's mother had taken a sudden disliking to me and poisoned my turkey dinner, but Dr. Koop set me straight.

In his clear, calm, authoritative voice, he asked, "You're one of the New Hampshire boys, aren't you?"

"Yes, sir," I replied.

"And when are you heading home?"

"Driving back tomorrow," I said, with a wince.

"No. No," he said, looking at me and then at his watch.

"Your appendix is going to burst in about four or five hours, so you will be going to the hospital."

The good doctor didn't do the operation, but I am told that just before surgery I sat up and asked if the OR crew would be making sure the instruments were properly sanitized by holding them over an open flame, like I had seen it done in the movies. A second dose of anesthesia was forthcoming.

Norm Koop married Anne Teague, a daughter of the Cog Railway's then owners. They live in Woodstock, Vt., where Norm is pastor at First Congregational Church. David Koop, who could never get enough of New Hampshire's mountains, was a student at Dartmouth when he was killed during a rock-climbing expedition on the cliffs of Cannon Mountain.

"Sometimes Mountains Move" is the title of the book that Dr. Koop and his wife wrote about getting through the loss of a child.

Quite a family, the Koops. I'm glad I knew them.

Write to Joe McQuaid at publisher@unionleader.com or via Twitter at @deucecrew.

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