At 100 and recognized as the world’s oldest practicing physician, this Cleveland doctor is still going strong


CLEVELAND, Ohio — By nearly any commonplace, Dr. Howard Tucker has led a unprecedented life. To name him completed is an understatement. To say he has skilled a mess of adventures doesn’t start to inform the entire story.

The neurologist and WWII Navy veteran has been practicing drugs since 1947, holds a second diploma in regulation, was as soon as airlifted off a mountaintop in the Alps, and has survived each COVID-19 and a damaged neck.

And now, after 100 years of life, he not solely still sees sufferers twice every week at St. Vincent Charity Medical Middle, however is getting into a completely new section as an rising as TikTok star, and topic of a feature-length documentary.

His followers can watch the mild-mannered doctor from Cleveland Heights throw a baseball, give relationship recommendation to Leonardo DiCaprio, and strive a burrito for the first time. And sure, you heard that proper, he has followers, and hundreds of thousands of views on TikTok.

“We have people contacting us asking ‘Can we go meet Dr. Tucker?’ ‘I live in Ohio, how can I meet him?’” mentioned Taylor Taglianetti a documentary filmmaker from New York, who, along with Tucker’s grandson Austin Tucker is producing a movie about Tucker’s life entitled What’s Subsequent?

It seems, turning 100 makes you somewhat little bit of a rock star.

On his one hundredth birthday this previous July, Tucker obtained letters of congratulations from 5 of the six residing U.S. presidents and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, plus a private serenade from nation music legend Dolly Parton.

And the following day he threw out the first pitch at a Guardians baseball sport. Taglianetti says they might manage some meet-and greets with Tucker and his many admirers so he can reply all their questions.

Oh, and there’s that entire Guinness World Data factor. In 2021, Tucker turned recognized as the oldest practicing doctor in the world.

Dr. Howard Tucker with his Guinness World Record

Dr. Howard Tucker along with his Guinness World FileAustin Tucker

“It bewilders me. I just can’t understand it,” mentioned Tucker about all the fuss. “People say to me, you’re doing pretty good for a hundred, and I say to myself how many 100-year-old people have they sampled? I don’t think I’ve ever met another 100-year-old person. I have only met myself.”

However beneath the real humility there is a touch of infantile enjoyment of the fanfare that has surrounded his centennial milestone. His mind, and wit, are still intact and sharp as ever. And, as it seems, making use of for the Guinness World File was type of his concept.

“A man died, and the obit said he was a barber. He was in the Guinness Book of World Records. He was 98 years old and the oldest barber in practice in the world,” mentioned Tucker. “And so that’s why I asked Austin if we should look into it.”

Austin did. And after months of inquiries and a prolonged utility course of, they received the information.

“Right before his 99th birthday we got the call that he got the record,” the youthful Tucker mentioned. “And that was the wakeup call for me. It was an opportunity for me to really sit back and think: ‘Wow, I’ve never truly understood what my grandfather has seen over almost a century of being around, but also over seven decades of practicing medicine.’ ”

That’s when Austin Tucker says he realized not all people has grandparents of their 90s who still go to work, and additionally when he and Taglianetti, his former NYU classmate, started to hatch a plan to inform his grandfather’s story. At first he says, he thought it might be one thing quick – possibly a 10-minute profile. However as soon as they started interviewing him, they realized they needed to make a full-length movie.

As sharp as ever

This slender, grey-haired man is possibly 5 and a half toes tall, with a pointy thoughts and a good sharper wit. He quotes Winston Churchill and Dorothy Parker, and has ideas on nearly every part, having skilled, or learn greater than most. It appears instantly apparent that this is a person who not solely refuses to retire, however has most likely by no means spent an idle second – bodily or mentally – in his 100 plus years.

He still workouts two miles on the treadmill or stationary bike 4 instances every week, reads the paper along with his spouse of 65 years over breakfast each morning, then places on a bowtie and heads to the hospital the place he still teaches neurology residents and sees sufferers. And when the event requires it, he’s been identified to drag an all-nighter to arrange a brand new medical lecture for his college students.

His grandson says he was even sneaking out of the home to go to the hospital throughout the top of COVID-19, 98 years outdated at the time, though the doctor remembers it otherwise.

“Well, I had to work,” he mentioned. “I put on a mask. The hospital didn’t tell me to stay home. They said everyone should come to work. In medicine we have a responsibility. If you take it seriously, you follow through.”

And as if drugs wasn’t sufficient, 40 years into his medical profession, he earned a regulation diploma whereas working full-time, passing the Ohio Bar Examination at the age of 67. As of late, in his days off from the hospital, he additionally works on the facet as an skilled witness, reviewing medical instances — an mental problem he says he loves.

“I get as much enjoyment out of reviewing records as I would if I were golfing. … And it’s less expensive, too,” Tucker mentioned with a chuckle.

What prompted him to go to regulation faculty? He learn an obituary a few man who was supposedly the oldest man to have ever handed the Ohio bar examination He. was 62, he recounts.

“I think I have him beat by 5 (years). I suppose I ought to call the Ohio State Bar Association and ask them,” he mentioned, wanting over at his grandson throughout the desk.

“I guess we have to now,” his grandson replied.

A little bit of luck and a life properly lived

There are some indicators that Tucker is slowing down.

For instance, he holds the handrail now when he climbs the stairs.

He now not does the NordicTrack anymore as a result of he says his steadiness is off, and he solely walks two miles on the treadmill at a time as an alternative of the earlier three to 4.

He’s additionally given up downhill snowboarding in favor of snowshoeing at the behest of his household. Additionally they would favor he hand over driving, however Tucker says he’s not prepared handy over the keys to the BMW he purchased at age 94 but. “I can’t lose my independence,” he mentioned.

He may be the luckiest man alive. This month he was getting rabies photographs after being bitten by a bat, and present process bodily remedy after taking a tumble down a flight of stairs that necessitated spinal fusion surgical procedure.

A decade earlier in his 80s he walked away from a snowboarding accident in Colorado that fractured the second cervical vertebrae – the identical vertebrae he factors out that killed Sonny Bono and paralyzed Christopher Reeves. And in his 70s he was airlifted of a mountaintop in the Alps in a basket suspended from a helicopter, after he slipped and broke his kneecap whereas mountaineering along with his spouse.

And but, he by no means misplaced his humorousness. When the medic requested if he would really like a tranquilizer to calm his nerves, he remembers asking, “Will it cushion the fall?” The joke he remembers, was misplaced in translation.

100-year-old doctor

Dr. Howard Tucker, 100, recognized by Guinness World Data as the oldest practicing doctor.Gretchen Cuda Kroen, cleveland.com

A residing legacy: 75 years in drugs

There aren’t numerous working docs that may see a affected person and say “Wow, I haven’t seen that in 50 years,” however Howard Tucker is one in all them.

The neurologist earned his diploma in drugs from Ohio State College 75 years in the past, and was amongst the first Jewish members of the medical college at Columbia College in New York. He later returned to Ohio to hitch the college of what was then identified as Western Reserve College and labored for over a decade at the Cleveland Clinic.

As a doctor he has lived by means of the polio epidemic, the final outbreak of smallpox, the discovery of DNA and the rise of recent genetics. And he has seen advances in expertise he might as soon as by no means have dreamed up.

Twice every week you’ll be able to still discover Dr. Tucker at St. Vincent Charity Medical Middle. And if by probability you’re his affected person, he’s prone to spend some additional time with you. Whereas he says he appreciates the advances expertise has made in drugs, he believes it shouldn’t come at the expense of the doctor listening to the affected person.

“I am always running behind,” he says. “The patient in front of me is the important one.”

Drugs again in in the early days was way more cerebral he says.

“We didn’t have CAT scans. We didn’t have MRIs. We had our brains. … We had to think through a problem – so it was fun in those days.”

Tucker says he by no means adopted a strict food plan or ran marathons. He got here dwelling each night time for dinner and to spend time along with his 4 youngsters, and then went again to work. He and his spouse had a convention of and consuming martinis on Friday nights. The key to his longevity he says is doing somewhat little bit of everything- however not an excessive amount of. “Everything in moderation,” he mentioned.

So what’s subsequent?

“Oh, I expect I’ll keep working until it’s over with,” he says talking of his eventual demise with the medical confidence of a doctor who has totally embraced the one factor he is aware of drugs can’t treatment.

“You know, life,” he says, “is a fatal disease.”

What’s Subsequent is in its closing section of manufacturing. To study extra about the movie, click on right here.

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