BY JANICE GIBBS
TELEGRAM STAFF WRITER
The dining room at the William R. Courtney Texas State Veterans Home was decked out in many of Dr. Jack Weinblatt’s favorite things — fishing paraphernalia, Dr Pepper and Chick-fil-A promotional material.
“I’m a Southern boy, I love Dr Pepper, fried chicken and black-eyed peas,” Weinblatt said.
Fishing is a favorite pastime, but the fish aren’t biting because it’s too hot, he said.
The celebration was in honor of Weinblatt’s 13 years as medical director, a position he is giving up at age 86.
“To me, the veterans and the staff are all heroes,” Weinblatt said. “I respect them, and I wanted to give them the best quality of life I could provide.”
Weinblatt said he wasn’t able to make any of the residents young again, but he could make them comfortable.
“It’s been my pleasure,” he said.
Weinblatt began his medical practice in Temple in 1952, but in addition to that, he served as medical director at a number of long-term care facilities over 40 years.
His popularity at the veterans home was apparent as residents and staff made their way to his side Friday afternoon to give him a hug or shake his hand.
Resident Irvin Simon rolled up in his wheelchair, and the two began to share jokes each had probably heard dozens of times before, but that didn’t diminish their laughter.
Hope Shepherd, assistant director of nurses at the Courtney Veterans Home, worked with Weinblatt for 10 years.
“I’ve worked with him for as along as I’ve been a nurse,” Shepherd said. “He’s awesome.”
Weinblatt has been the biggest asset to the long-term care community ever, she said.
“He’s taught young nurses and older nurses so much,” Shepherd said.
Dr. Jack, she said, taught the nurses how to communicate with physicians, expecting them to be fully prepared if they called him.
“You better have all of your ducks in a row,” Shepherd said. Weinblatt was a teacher, mentor and a friend.
“He’s awesome, and we certainly are going to miss him,” she said.
Kevin Warren, deputy commissioner with the Texas General Land Board, went to the celebration to honor Weinblatt, taking with him a certificate of appreciation from Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson, flowers for Weinblatt’s wife, Wanda, and a service award.
Weinblatt sees the residents as people, not just a condition, and wanted to continue to serve the veterans as long as he could make a difference, Warren said.
“He has a love for his patients and the elderly that is not only endearing, but is something that is so special to watch,” he said.
Warren thanked Weinblatt for what he had done for him personally and for what he had done for Temple and the veterans home. In December, Weinblatt interviewed Roger Von Seberg for the director of nursing position at the William R. Courtney Veterans Home.
“It was probably one of the most interesting interviews I’d had in my career, and I will never forget the last words of Dr. Jack before he left the room, ‘Dear God, please let him be competent,’” Von Seberg said.
It’s an honor to work in what Weinblatt had built, he said.