That Teacher

That Teacher

I think we all have one. A teacher who impacted us in a way that we are forever different than what we would have been. A teacher who thought we could do more than we believed we could do. A teacher who inspired a bit of fear in us that we later came to call respect. A teacher who set a high standard and then helped us meet it. A teacher who taught more than the required material—because information came second to wisdom in their thinking. A teacher who forever lives in the balcony of our mind and always calls us upward.

I went to the funeral of such a teacher the other day. His name is Michael Moredock. I never sat in his classroom. But I heard what students said about him for 8 years before brain cancer forced his retirement and then took his life 3 years later. They complained to me, the university president, about how hard he was in the classroom. Demanding, they said. Unreasonable, they said.  Tough as nails, they said. Doc Moredock was an administrator and teacher in our Physicians Assistant program, a graduate program that fills the world with emergency room physicians, primary care office doctors, and surgical assistants. Trevecca established the first PA program in TN and regularly has 800 applications for 50 seats. The program is rigorous, demanding, and not for the faint of heart.

Doc Moredock set the tone for 26 years. He also served as our campus doctor and regularly cared for the 300 employees and 2500 students that comprise the Trevecca community. At his funeral, stories were told of a Renaissance man who farmed, fixed things, built things, invented things, and knew medicine alongside the best of them. Those close to him knew his remarkable humor, his selfless service to others, and his deep faith in God that was more conviction than emotion.

I have bumped into his graduates around Nashville and, without exception, they all say the same thing. That man is the toughest teacher I ever had – and I will be forever indebted to him for the medical servant I am today. And there is usually a misty look in their eyes when they say it.  They ran the math on his 26 years of teaching and his 750 graduates. They estimate that 50 million patients have been served by the knowledge and skill he instilled in his students. His funeral opened my eyes, again, to the power of a teacher.

And I learned something I did not know. Doc’s nurse in the campus clinic told me that I was his last patient. It was a routine visit. He was engaged, cordial, and kind. What I did not know was that he knew in that moment that his career as teacher and doctor had come to an end in a diagnosis. He had been so sick that day that he laid on the floor in pain before each appointment. And he served his last patient without a word about his own problems.

People like Doc are rare. We have a word for them: “Saint.”

Comments

  1. Dede Lovell says

    Thanks Dr. Boone for your words of remembrance. Our family loved and admired Dr. M. /Saint Moredock.

  2. When we launched soccer at TNT Dr. Moredock, as busy as he was, helped me line the fields and pitched-in other ways as well. The fields were more symmetrical and the events went smoother because a kind “Doc” quietly pitched in behind the scenes. I’m sorry for both the loss to family and to our university, but grateful for the time spent a Christian gentleman I called Doc.

  3. Amen! Thank you for this message!

  4. Katrina M. Gill says

    Well said. Saint is so appropriate. His consistency of servanthood, kindness and character let him apart. I appreciate you writing this message.

  5. Karrie Jones says

    Thank you, Dr. Boone, for your beautiful message about my dad. He was one-of-a-kind, an inspiration. My family appreciates your remembrance.

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