This summer marks a milestone for Dr. David Williams, 68. On July 1, he’ll retire from Steamboat Medical Clinic, which he co-founded with Dr. John Sharp 39 years ago.
“The medical community in Steamboat in 1975 was very different,” Williams says. “There were no ER docs, OB-GYNs, pediatricians, anesthesiologists, ENTs, urologists, dermatologists, plastic surgeons or ophthalmologists. The family docs, one surgeon, one internist and one orthopedist covered the emergency room, delivered babies — I’ve delivered over a thousand — did C-sections, took care of the infants and children, administered anesthesia and more. As more specialists arrived, the scope of family medicine gradually evolved and became what it is today.”
His colleagues remain flabbergasted at his earlier duties. “I can’t imagine doing the roles he did 30 years ago,” says Dr. Dave Niedermeier, who has practiced alongside him for the past six years. “He’s an incredible asset for this community, and a constant voice of reason, wisdom and calm in the face of constant challenges in an ever-changing health care environment. He and Dr. Dudley have built an extraordinarily positive clinic environment.”
Despite the earlier, multi-directional arm pulling, Dr. Williams wouldn’t have it any other way. After graduating from Colorado College and the Baylor College of Medicine, and completing his family medicine residency at the University of Utah, Dr. Williams moved to Steamboat Springs with his wife, Holly, in 1975, where he’s lived in the same house ever since.
Shortly after co-founding the center, he brought on Dr. Jim Dudley, a close friend from his residency days, building the clinic into today’s successful, seven-person, multispecialty practice. While attending to the community’s medical needs, he also helped raise children Ashley, 38, and Brad, 35, both Boetcher Scholars who went on to attend MIT and Harvard, respectively. Ashley, he says proudly, is now a bio-engineering researcher for Stanford University and professional dancer, and Brad is an attorney in Denver who ran this year’s Steamboat Marathon.
Throughout all this, it’s Steamboat’s down-home community that has kept him here so long. “Practicing in this wonderful small town has allowed me to know, listen to and learn from a great many people, both as patients and friends,” he says. “For a town this size, the menu of opportunities for intellectual stimulation, multiseason sports, arts and entertainment and community participation is astounding. And I’ve been exceedingly lucky to share it all here with my soulmate and wife, Holly.”
Looking ahead to the next, more leisurely chapter of his life, Dr. Williams might be putting down the stethoscope but he’s hardly slowing down. In May he traveled to Iceland before road biking in France, and he plans to continue such pursuits as skate and Alpine skiing, biking and running (he’s competed in the 10K Bolder Boulder more than 20 times). “I love the things this aging body continues to support,” he says.
And he can do it all knowing that the legacy he created is in great hands.
“I’m proud of the energetic, smart and compassionate younger physicians who are carrying on the practice,” he says. “Another remarkable thing about this town is the breadth and depth of the medical community here. It could be the envy of much larger cities.”