By: Claude Milot
Internet research identifies Dr. Paul Deppisch as an orthopedic specialist with a five-star rating who has been practicing in Akron, Ohio, for the last 40 years. The internet obviously needs updating: Dr. Deppisch had heart surgery in 2005, and this “message from God” led to his retirement and a relocation to Albemarle Plantation in 2007—and our good fortune.
Paul no longer operates on patients, but he still loves to lend his knowledge acquired through decades of experience to AP residents who seek his advice, over 50 of them so far by his count. Such was the case when I asked him to take a look at the MRI of my wife Yvonne’s back after doctors had said that her condition was inoperable. Paul disagreed and recommended a spine specialist who had done a successful L4-S1 fusion on his back three years ago. Yvonne is now getting the care that she needs to achieve a full recovery.
Paul was born in Akron, one of eight kids. His mom, a nurse, had always wanted one of her children to be a doctor, and Paul granted her wish. But it wasn’t his mom who got him interested in medicine. Because he was tall, he played basketball in high school, and it was on the basketball court that he suffered a serious knee injury that required surgery and got him interested in medicine.
After Catholic high school in Akron, Paul attended John Carroll University, a private Jesuit school in University Heights, Ohio, followed by medical school at the University of Missouri in Kansas City where he obtained his medical sheepskin in 1973. A difficult case during his residency probably was the key to his future as an orthopedic surgeon. He was assisting a Dr. Steffe in repairing a patient’s shoulder when they realized that it had been broken in so many places there was no way to fix it. Leaving Paul holding the fort for 45 minutes, Dr. Steffe went to a metal shop and fabricated an artificial metal shoulder from a piece meant for a hip replacement. This brilliant example of medical innovation did it for Paul: he would be an orthopedic surgeon.
Two years and 30 back surgeries later, Paul turned to the hand, doing 20 to 25 surgeries a week and thousands over the years. He also repaired hundreds of knees and hips during his career. His greatest day as a doctor, however, was the day he delivered his youngest son Richard James, named after his deceased father. Which brings us to Paul’s lovely wife Michelle.
You might say that Michelle Deppisch is the breadwinner in the family, as she maintains an active career in the medical field. She had a degree in Physical Therapy from the University of Florida when she went to work in Paul’s office as a physical therapist. He says that Michelle may have been treating patients, but she was actually busy winning his heart.
When Paul and Michelle moved to North Carolina, Michelle became Director of Physical Therapy at Albemarle Hospital. For the past three years she has been the East Coast Regional Director of Science for the Swedish firm Mölnlycke, a major supplier of health care products. Certified in wound care, she serves on multiple wound-care boards that determine the most appropriate wound-care applications in North America.
Michelle presented Paul with four boys after their marriage in 1984. Judd, the oldest, is a finance expert for City Bank in Chicago and the father of fraternal twins Greyson and Brielle born on Valentine’s Day a year ago; Jason is an auditor for Walgreen’s, also in Chicago; Michael is a lieutenant colonel and base commander of an Airborne Division in Austin, Texas, and father of Aspen, age 5 and Callen age 3; Richard James is following in his father’s footsteps as a physician.
Weather permitting you are likely to find Paul on the golf course, sometimes offering medical advice free of charge to his playing partners. He played a lot of golf when the kids were young, enjoying special venues like Firestone and Pebble Beach. But his favorite sport was always baseball, which is why his channel is MLB TV—where he can watch his favorite team, the Cleveland Indians. When you see him, ask him about the thrill of being at a World Series game between the Indians and the Cubs at Jacobs Field in 2016. Second only to delivering Richard James.