April 15, 1956: Dr. Charles B. Dotterer Celebrated as Man of the Year


By Margaret Leidy Harner from her book One Day at a Time: A Social History of Boyertown, PA.

April 15, 1956: Dr. John Waring showed up at Dr. Charles B. Dotterer’s home and told him they were needed at an emergency and escorted his friend to the Orioles Home. Dotterer had no idea that anything special was happening until he got into the building, and then, “something didn’t seem right!”

As they walked into the hall, Dotterer was greeted by a standing ovation from more than a hundred friends. Dotterer was being honored as the second Boyertown “Man of the Year” by the Jaycees for his nearly half century of service to the community, not only in the medical field but also for his political, civic, and fraternal participation.

He was a very colorful and beloved physician in Boyertown, held in great esteem and affection by four generations of patients for his caring devotion to their health. He has been called a “born leader” with a strong character and great determination. Boyertown people loved him and looked up to him.

The guests that evening were entertained by a “This Is Your Life” presentation, in which people from every stage in his life appeared with anecdotes about their experiences with the good doctor. During World War I, he was commissioned a Captain in the United States Army Medical Corps, and ten young men from Boyertown went overseas with him, serving in France in the thick of the fighting in the Argonne as part of the St. Mihiel Drive. He set up a hospital for the victims of the Meuse-Argonne campaign which cared for more than 4000 patients.

Dr. Dotterer was an innovator. Making his first house calls in his horse and buggy, he quickly switched over to using an automobile, being the first person in town to own one. His car could be seen around town at all hours of the day and night. He famously hooked up his pride and joy, a Winton convertible, to a steam pumper from the Keystone Fire Company in an emergency, to create the first “motorized” firefighting equipment in town. As a joke, friends picked up his Austin Healy and carried it up to the porch of the Orioles building on South Washington Street. When he discovered it, he apparently laughed, got in, and drove it down the stairs! He would personally deliver very ill patients to Philadelphia hospitals and arrange for townspeople to drive relatives into the city to visit the patient.

He charged his patients according to their ability to pay. When one patient asked what he owed, the doctor replied, “nothing.” The patient insisted on paying, so Dotterer said, “Ach, gibst mir ein dollar.” Dr. Charles B. Dotterer maintained regular office hours up until the day before his death at the age of 77 in 1957.

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