Life & Living

Getting to Know Dr. Fred even better – Early Days

I’ve made four great decisions in my life:

1. Marrying Kathleen
2. Converting to Christianity
3. Raising a family
4. Establishing a chiropractic practice in Watertown

I know I am a very blessed man. Truth be told I deserve none of it. To really know me I need to start my story a generation before I was born.

My Uncle Bela, from the Holocaust Museum

My father was a young boy in Hungary when WWII broke out. His family was Jewish. The Nazis took my dad and his family to a concentration camp. My grandparents were killed immediately in the ovens. Growing up, I never knew them.

My father managed to survive and after a period of time convalescing in a hospital, he immigrated to the United States.

He enrolled in English and vocational classes. He became a citizen and went to work as a butcher, which would be his life’s work.

My dad married an American woman, and together they raised three children. I am the oldest of the three.

My father’s sayings and examples how he lived his life are deeply ingrained in my life.

Dad told me “a man isn’t defined by how many times he gets knocked down but by how many times he gets back up.” Every time I heard that I could only think how someone who was brutalized in a death camp could have such a positive outlook on life.  I think that saying was perhaps one of the early seeds for my optimistic and never-give-up outlook on life.

His words weren’t the only thing that impacted my life. I remember as a small child, maybe seven or eight years old, sitting on his lap and for the first time really noticing the concentration camp number tattooed on the underside of his forearm. I stroked my index finger across the number.

Parents, cerca, 1950’s

“Dad, what’s that?”

As he explained it to me with tears in his eyes, it was the first time in my life I came to understand that all human life is precious. I also came to understand there is evil in the world.

Thinking back, this likely laid the groundwork for my pro-life work that would come many decades later.

My childhood was probably as normal as could be expected given the circumstances. I started my first job when I was 14. I worked for $1.60/hour flipping burgers at Hardees. My life during those years consisted of school, work, and scouts.

By the time I was 16 I bought my first car, a 1974 butterscotch Pinto for $2,100. I paid cash for it, every penny coming from my work at Hardees.

My fortunes began to improve that year. I was offered a job bagging groceries. The job paid nearly $2/hour more than I was making at Hardees. I also earned my Eagle Scout Award, and I discovered something called “Explorer Scouts” — essentially co-ed scouting. For me, Boy Scouts and girls were like chocolate and peanut butter. I never looked back.

My Explorer Post field hockey team

It was through the Explorer program that I was introduced to field hockey. The US Olympic Committee wanted to develop a men’s field hockey team. They looked to the Explorer program to find young men that could potentially develop in their Junior Olympic program.

The program provided me and a few of my friends the opportunity to train with a world-class coach and to participate in international tournaments. We were never good enough to really compete internationally – most county’s started their programs when the children are very small – but the time training with an Olympic level coach provided me opportunities to work hard and learn valuable life skills.

Field hockey also provided for some unusual college experiences. During try-outs for the women’s team (there was no men’s team), I practiced a few skills with players. The coach saw me and asked me if I would continue to practice with the team. When I asked if I could try out, I remember the Athletic Director telling me, “Fred you’re faster than the girls, you hit the ball harder and you dribble better. It wouldn’t be fair to let you play.”

So that’s what I did. It never occurred to me to make a stink about it.

Turning to college studies, I majored in pre-med.  I intended to become a medical doctor.

That changed during my sophomore year. I spent a semester that year as a research assistant at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, MD. I worked in a lab that dealt with a lot of blood. It wasn’t long until I came to understand I wanted a future career in a “bloodless” health occupation.

My decision to study chiropractic after receiving my bachelor’s degree was one of the major turning points in my life. That’s when my fortunes got even better.

It was during my first week at Northwestern Health Science University in St. Paul, MN that I met my future wife, Kathleen.

My roommate and I heard of two female chiropractic students living a floor above us in the same apartment complex, so we decided to introduce ourselves. As it turned out, a young chiropractic student, Kathleen from Webster, SD, was visiting the two girls and the three were planning to go dancing with three other male chiropractic students. When we knocked on the door, they thought we were the other guys they were expecting. As fate would have it, the three guys changed their plans and one of the girls decided to stay home, so my roommate and I went dancing with Kathleen and another chiropractic student.

Three years later we were married.

Kathleen now jokes the old saying, “Girls shouldn’t expect the man of her dreams to come knocking on her door,” isn’t necessarily true.

Together, Kathleen and I moved to her home state in 1983 to open Deutsch Chiropractic Clinic. We continue to practice together in the same building as when we came to town.

Early in my career, I had the opportunity to teach chiropractors best practice skills, serve as a clinical consultant to other chiropractors for challenging cases and serve as a malpractice expert witness. In recognition of professional work, my colleagues honored me in 1996, naming me South Dakota Chiropractor of the year.

Now in my 34th year of practice, I still love caring for people and taking away their pain.

To be continued . . .

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