Dr. Gary Thueson has served the citizens of Waldport and the surrounding communities as a general practitioner for the past 28 years. Gary and his wife, Susan, his medical assistant, have cared for and followed almost three thousand patients for nearly three decades. The well-known and much loved couple have recently retired and closed the doors of their medical clinic on Bay Street in Waldport, Oregon.
Dr. Thueson and Susan had four children and had been married ten years when they made the decision to move to the small town of Waldport. There was a need for a medical doctor there and they felt it was a beautiful location to raise a family. They have been vital members of the community and contributed to the peaceful, healthy lifestyle we all enjoy. They are active members of the Church Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Waldport, where Gary serves as ward clerk and Susan plays the piano for the children’s auxiliary services, and they both sing in the choir.
Gary was born and grew up in Healdsburg, California where he graduated from high school. He attended a community college for two years before serving a two-year mission for the LDS Church to the Northern Indian Mission in the Dakotas. He earned his BA degree at California State College-Sonoma before attending medical school at UTMB (University of Texas Medical Branch) in Galveston, Texas. He interned at UC Davis Medical Center and finished two years of residency at Merced Community Medical Center in California.
Gary’s father was a pharmacist and the first in his family to attend college and earn a degree. His father owned a pharmacy in Placerville, California. Gary said, “I was always interested in how the body heals itself and how doctors helped. We had a good family friend when I was a kid who was a doctor, and my dad knew a lot about biology due to his pharmacy studies.” These two good men had a profound influence on Gary’s decision to become a physician.
Susan was born and raised in the Philippines, mainly in Manila and Davao City. She attended Catholic Schools, graduated two years early and went on to Immaculate Conception College receiving her BS in Medical Technology. She had wanted to become an engineer like her father, but women in Asia in those days did not train for “man jobs.” She moved to Chicago on a post-grad scholarship, passing her Board in Medical Technology.
Susan’s father was head of Foreign Building Operations, which builds US Embassies. He was involved in building or remodeling embassies in eighty countries. He was injured when he was in the Beirut Embassy when it was blown up. Susan had four brothers and two sisters. Her brothers got to be the engineers in the family.
Gary and Susan met when Gary took a job at the UTMB laboratory where Susan was already working. They were married in 1977 and when they returned to their new apartment after the honeymoon they found a notice that the rent was going up. They searched for something more affordable since Gary was hoping to get into medical school.
They bought a house from an estate sale, which had been framed and sheathed by the owner who died before he could finish it. They moved into the shell, living amongst the clutter of building supplies while they both worked nights and worked on the house part of each day. They were able to put in central heating and air conditioning right before they brought their first baby home from the hospital. They laid carpet just in time for the baby to learn to crawl. They lived in the house for three years and six months while Gary attended medical school.
As they reflect on a 28-year career of service to the small, coastal, Oregon community and experience the difficulty of giving up their medical practice they graciously thank everyone for their support over the years. When the Samaritan Clinic opened and expanded the medical provider pool, the Thueson’s cut their work hours to half time for almost two years. Gary and Susan decided they could not stay in business due to the increasingly expensive government requirements and decaying payment levels to private practice doctors. They regret that they couldn’t establish a continuity of care for their patients by securing a new doctor to take over the practice but it was not possible.
They considered selling their medical equipment, but realized that almost no new offices were being opened and if one did open, the owners wanted new equipment. Rather than sell it for a minimal return, they decided there were other countries that needed the equipment more than they needed the small amount they would derive from selling it on the secondary market. They donated all the office and medical equipment to charity and it has been sent to the Ivory Coast of Africa.
Now that they are retired they can pursue their hobbies with vigor. Gary likes to remodel, read, play his guitar and “do what my wife tells me to do,” he said. Susan likes to read and cook and teaches line-dancing Wednesdays at 1:30 pm at the Bayshore clubhouse. In addition to playing the piano, she plays the accordion, and guitar.
They both chose medical careers because they like helping people and enjoy the challenge of diagnosis and the constant learning to keep current and proficient. Their service oriented lifestyle and their love of medicine fueled their decision to serve a medical mission in the Philippines, beginning in 2016. The dynamic couple has been a great asset to Waldport and the surrounding areas, and their outstanding talents will benefit communities wherever they travel.