Saltaire Summery

by Hugh O'Brien |

The winning entry in the under-12 culinary contest teeters uncertainly at the SCA bay picnic. (Photo by Catherine O’Brien.)

Okay, we’re holding a get-together in honor of Dr. Bob Furey this Sunday, Aug. 18, beginning at 11:30 a.m. at the Saltaire Yacht Club. It’s a way for us to express our gratitude to and affection for Bob for his years of service to the community. There’ll be presentations, speeches – brief speeches – and time for anyone so inclined to get up and relate a Bob tale or two. You’ll have fun, reminisce and swap stories, but the important thing is that Bob’s many friends and admirers come down to celebrate and applaud him. There’ll be a little food and (non-alcoholic) beverages but this isn’t a cocktail party. It’s an event not for us but for Bob, and an opportunity to remind him of everything he means to us. More about Bob in a moment, but first, as the hotel maid said when she rapped on your door, housekeeping.

This weekend marks the running of the (43rd?) Jogathon. Registration is Saturday, from 9 a.m. to noon at the gazebo, the races themselves Sunday starting at 9 a.m.; full information is on the SCA’s website and emails. Don’t worry – if you compete you should be finished by the time the Dr. Bob festivities get underway; so runners, summon those last reserves of strength and straggle over to the Club, where if worst comes to worst at least there’ll be medical attention available.

On Saturday, Aug. 24, from 10 a.m. to noon, brand-spanking-new (that again?) FINS Superintendent Alex Romero continues his series of town hall meetings, this time in Saltaire, though here he’ll have to settle for a “Village” Hall meeting. Alex has been hopscotching across the island, introducing himself to his constituents and soliciting views on their favorite issues, such as driving, deer, driving, deer ticks, driving, and deer management, so come to the library and get to know the man who holds a considerable portion of our fate in his hands. Meanwhile, more camp, library and nature activities are on tap, and further afield, a veritable plethora of activities on and around Labor Day, a scant fortnight’s distant. Keep apprised via very varied village venues.

Now, back to Dr. Furey. When Bob first arrived in 1976, he was but one of four physicians who rotated through the Village Doctor’s Office throughout the summer. Gradually that was pared down to two, but as others came and went (and our other favorite, Tony Smith, settled here), Bob soldiered on, summer after summer. Because of his dedication to the people he served – and because Bob had truly become a part of Saltaire, not merely someone occupying an office a few weeks every year – when in the course of events his own work permitted him to stay all summer, the village (small “v”) as well as the Village (capital “V”) were more than relieved to have him do so. Dealing with one person whom we could trust to tend to our ailments and injuries was a plus, and Bob knew each resident’s particular quirks well enough to know how to give each patient that personal touch that is so much a part of his care. But Bob’s concern for his patients – his friends – extended well beyond Saltaire, to that place variously labeled “the real world,” “the States,” or “America.” If someone needed more extensive care, a specialist, surgery, whatever it might be, Bob would help them find the best person. If you chanced to be a patient at Bob’s old stomping grounds, the late, honestly lamented St. Vincent’s Hospital, Bob kept abreast of your situation, checked in with you, made sure you got the best care and helped smooth out any problems … all over and above the call of duty.

It was that dedication to duty, to his profession, to those in his care, that governed every hour of every day Bob spent in Saltaire, year after year, generation after generation. In the early years after we’d bought an ambulance but had no EMTs, it was Bob who would tend the patient, ride to the hospital and make sure everything was taken care of. (Contrary to suburban legend, the old joke that if you died en route to Good Sam the last thing you’d see hovering over you was then-SVFC Fire Chief Lenny McGahey was not true; in fact Dr. Bob would have been the last person you’d see, which if nothing else should have made one’s transition to the afterlife a tad less traumatic.) Whenever and however needed, Bob is and always has been there for us.

Of course, there’s also leisure Bob, ever-ready to leap into the social side of Saltaire without an overabundance of prodding. He’s an expert sailor, a sought-after dinner guest, a raconteur of note and a gourmet of moderate accomplishment, which is probably why he accepts so many dinner invitations. His fond remembrances of being stationed at the U.S. Air Force base in Thule, Greenland – yes, Bob’s a veteran too – for one year, one day, 16 hours and 34 minutes (the time varies with the telling) are recounted amid a suitably icy aura. Equally reassuring are his stories of med school pranks and errant ER errata, which really instill a great deal of confidence in the respect some physicians harbor for the sanctity of the human body. In so many ways, good and occasionally dubious, Bob is a pearl both of great price and frequent wisdom. Bob may not be back in 2020 as the Village Doctor, but neither is he about to vanish into salt air; one way or another he stands to be around, so this isn’t a good-bye by any means; au revoir, maybe. Fair Harbor may have Le Dock, but we have The Doc, and no matter whither the vagaries of the health care system lead us, we’ll always have something more important: the Doc, our Doc, our friend, our buddy, our sage and, on occasion, our salvation: Dr. Robert Joseph Furey. See you Sunday!

About the Author
Avatar

Hugh O'Brien

Share this Article

Leave a Reply

Please Login to comment
  Subscribe  
Notify of