Dr. Winston Wreggit, My Highland Park Doctor (1908-1992)

Dr Winston Wreggit and his wife Elizabeth.  Her parents served as medical missionaries for several years in India.

Dr Winston Wreggit and his wife Elizabeth. Her parents served as medical missionaries for several years in India.

There are many treasures that we receive from our parents after they leave us. One of the treasures that I received from my Dad is a 1925 Polar Bear Yearbook. Looking at the pictures of life during my Dad’s time as an older teenager is quite interesting.

While looking at the Senior Class of 1925, I saw a familiar name, Winston Wreggit.  I looked at the photo. and I recognized that this is a photo of our family doctor for all the years that I lived in Highland Park (1955-1977)! My mind couldn’t help but go back to my many visits to Dr. Wreggit’s office at 79 Highland Avenue, which was located across from the Bell Telephone Company building.

Winston Wreggit's senior photo in the 1925 Polar Bear Yearbook

Winston Wreggit’s senior photo in the 1925 Polar Bear Yearbook

My Dad knew Dr. Wreggit from his high school years. For this reason, Dad felt a special connection to Dr. Wreggit. Dad knew that Dr. Wreggit would take good care of his family, and he had the utmost confidence in him.  Because of this confidence, I would never know another physician for the first twenty-seven years of my life.

A visit to Dr. Wreggit began with opening the door of what had been a first floor flat. Entering the door, we (Mom and I) would be greeted by Dr. Wreggit’s nurse, receptionist and office manager (all in one person!). The nurse would then direct us to the waiting room.  This room was rather spartan in its looks, but I liked sitting in one of the straw chairs.

A former patient (Kennedy Baughman) in front of what use to be Dr. Wreggit's office.

A former patient (Kennedy Baughman) in front of what was Dr. Wreggit’s office.

The highlight of the waiting room was the Highlights magazine. I would enjoy looking through the magazine, especially finding the hidden objects in the picture. Later on, when I was older, I probably picked up the Time magazine or some other magazine.  I don’t ever remember that we ever had a long wait.

After some time, our kind nurse would call us into one of the rooms that Dr. Wreggit used to see his patients.  One of the things that amazed me were all the file folders. There were file folders on the desk, as well on top of his cabinet. Everything was a bit cluttered, but I am sure there was some organization in it all.

While I looked around, Dr. Wreggit would enter the room and greet me with his deep bass voice. Then he would open up his file and perhaps say: “It is time for your tetanus booster” I don’t know why but it seemed like every time, I would see Dr. Wreggit, he would give me a shot.

Being merciful, Dr. Wreggit wouldn’t begin with the “shot”. He would first take my blood pressure. Then he would say: “Please take off your shirt.” With his stethoscope, he would begin to probe my chest.  Then he would probe my back. As he was probing, he would say the words that I can still hear in my head: “Take a deep breath, let it out.” Then he would say: “again” several times.  After this he would check down my throat and pronounce me healthy.

The next part was the hard part. I saw the needle in his hand. He would swab the target spot on my arm with something clear. It didn’t seem to help with what was coming. He would inject me as I tried to show courage and not cry. After the shot was given. he would reach up to the top of his cabinet and grab a box. As he opened the box, I could see that it was full of suckers. I grabbed one and off I would go, another satisfied patient.

There were a couple of occasions when I was sick that I didn’t go visit Dr. Wreggit. He would come and visit me. This just seemed natural in those days. Dr. Wreggit would come into our house with his black bag filled with all the instruments that he needed to sort out what needed to be done. He would go through the same basic routine that I experienced at his office. Those words: “Take a deep breath and let it out” were repeated. He would tell my parents what to do for me and then he would leave.

After leaving Highland Park, I never visited a doctor for many years. However, in 1983 Sharon (my wife) and I needed a physical to get a visa to move to South Africa as missionaries. I told Sharon about Dr. Wreggit. Dad still went to Dr. Wreggit; so it was only natural that we would go to him though he now had his practice in Southfield.

This would be the last time, I would ever see Dr. Wreggit. He was in his mid-seventies and though he looked older than I had remembered him, his voice was still strong. I heard for one last time those words: “Take a deep breath and let it out.” He also gave us his favorite shot, the tetanus booster. This time, there were no box of suckers. As we left to pay, he told us that we owed him nothing.  For some strange reason this didn’t surprise me. My Dad had told me how generous Dr. Wreggit was with his services.  He charged my Dad seven dollars per visit until he quit his practice in the mid-eighties.

Like so many people in my life, I never really knew the real Dr. Wreggit. I saw him as a kind, and committed doctor, but I didn’t know the whole story until I was preparing to write this post.

What motivated him to practice medicine in order to help others?  Why would he treat many of his patients for only what they could afford or for free?  In Dr. Wreggit’s childhood, he made two very important decisions that would rule his life. One decision he made was to accept Jesus Christ as his Savior as a result of the ministry of the well-known evangelist, Billy Sunday. He would continue to follow the Lord and serve Him for all his life. He was also faithful member of Highland Park Baptist Church.

At the age of ten, Dr. Wreggit made another decision that would change his life. He was near death as a result of spinal meningitis. As he was lying on his hospital bed in old Grace Hospital, he made a promise to God that he would help other people as a doctor if he would get better. God answered his prayer. Dr. Wreggit would practice medicine almost until the day he died.

Over the years, I have had a few other doctors, but none of them were like Dr. Wreggit.  Here was a man who cared about others. Not only that, but he cared about a little boy growing up in Highland Park. For this reason, I wanted to write this post about him.

P.S. Here are a few more photos of Dr. Wreggit.

Dr. Wreggit served in the US Army during World War 2. He was an army surgeon in New Guinea. He reached the rank of Lt. Colonel

Dr. Wreggit served in the US Army during World War 2. He was an army surgeon in New Guinea. He reached the rank of Lt. Colonel.

Dr. Wreggit and Elizabeth at their son's (George) wedding.  George followed in his Dad's footsteps as a doctor.

Dr. Wreggit and Elizabeth at their son’s (George) wedding. George followed in his Dad’s footsteps as a doctor.

Dr Wreggit at a reception in honor of forty years of service at Grace Hospital.

Dr Wreggit at a reception in honor of forty years of service at Grace Hospital.

P.P.S. Please visit my other blog: http://www.markjemilbooth.com.  I have several articles concerning our spiritual lives including, “A Heart to Walk with God” and “The Joy of Morning Prayer.”

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16 thoughts on “Dr. Winston Wreggit, My Highland Park Doctor (1908-1992)

  1. I remember Dr. Wreggit coming to our house on Sturtevant to see how my sister, Judy, and I were doing after having our tonsils removed – by Dr. Wreggit. I didn’t know the Wreggits were members of H.Pk.Baptist church . My husband’s father was a minister there for awhile – Dr. D. Gillespie. Thanks for sharing the info and photos.

    • Thanks Doris for your comments. I have heard some other stories about Dr. Wreggit. I did attend the Boys Stockade and Brigade for awhile at HPBC. I also went to VBS there. I do hope to write about this later. If you have any photos of the HPBC in Highland Park, I would like a copy of it. My mom went eventually to Coltman Memorial which consisted of several people who decided to stay in HP when the church moved to Southfield. Thanks for reading my blog.

  2. Hi. my name is Keith Blasius and I too have many memories of Highland Park. I was wondering if your family lived on Geneva? There is so much history and stories about H.P. thatI wondered why there are no books written. My Mother still lives on Moss near second so I visit the city almost every day and have seen the decline firsthand. Keep up the good work my Wife and I look forward to your stories. Thanks Keith Class of 1971 HPHS

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    • Keith thanks for subscribing to this blog. Thanks also for writing a comment. Yes, we all have some great memories of our growing up years. Like you, I have always wondered why there is no book on Highland Park’s history. I see them for Hamtramck and other suburbs and communities in Michigan. As for Moss, the houses there were of much better quality than my street which was Candler Ave. Most of the houses on my street including mine our long gone. I am sure your Mom is glad that you check up on her. Please tell me if you have any old photos of Highland Park. I always can use some of them in my posts. When I look at my photos, I have very few of the city. I spent every summer at Ford Park, but do I have a photo? Of course not. I have no photos of Ford School either. I do hope to write on these topics in the future. Thanks again for input and reading the blog. BTW- I was in the class of 1973

  3. Thank you for writing such a great article about my grandfather. He was always my personal hero- we even shared the same birthday. Every summer we would drive from Connecticut to Detroit and spend several weeks with my grandparents. Those weeks, even though they always included a tetanus booster, make up my favorite childhood memories! Most of the days would start with sitting in the car with my grandmother as grandpa made his house calls. After seeing patients, we would often go to Belle Isle or head up to Port Huron to collect petoskys (sp?). I had to laugh at the comment about his cluttered desk, very, very true and unfortunately a genetic trait that we all inherited!
    He certainly was a great man and a wonderful doctor. Thank you.

    • Jen,
      Thanks for reading my post about your Grandfather. I also thank you for the encouraging comments. I have enjoyed writing about my life growing up in Highland Park. Your Grandfather was a real part of that life. I am glad that you have such good memories of your visits to Highland Park.

  4. Oh my gosh….I just found this blog and I could have written some of the articles myself!!! They are so close to home!! I lived at 81 Grove…and my doctor growing up was Dr. Wreggit too!!! I do remember getting shots all the time too…but I remember getting “root beer barrels” candy afterwards!!! I remember him as being a very tall man, who, when he came to your house…he walked very hard! I was also the class of 1973, although we moved from HP after I finished the 8th grade…also at Henry Ford Middle School!! Do you remember any of your teachers at Ford School??? Maybe we had some of the same teachers as your name seems faintly familiar to me!! I just started to read the blog, so I haven’t read all the entries, but it sure brings back memories!!!

    • Thanks Debbie for reading my blog, and especially for commenting. I notice that there are many people who have read my posts, but very few comment. Yes, I went to Ford School. The only post thus far that discusses this is the one that talks about my swim class experience. When school starts up in the Fall, I will be writing several articles about my Ford School experiences. As for teachers, I had Mrs. Zellman and Mrs. Lott for sixth grade, Mrs. Picolas, Mrs. Gilbert (Mrs. Heinz died during the year), and Mr. Seldon (with Iggy). In Eighth grade, I had Mr. Metzger, Mrs. Emmanuel, Mr. Butts, and Mrs. Smart. I never knew this while a student, but Mr. Butts also did professional wrestling. He wrestled as a masked man.
      I never had Mr. Bartnikowski, but I knew from his summer job at Ford Park. I wrote about him in my other blog, but I have yet to transfer it to my Highland Park blog. Here is the link to the article: http://markjemilbooth.com/2012/10/20/goodbye-mike-bartnikowski-thank-you-for-everything/
      Debbie, please feel free to subscribe to my Highland Park blog. I will be writing several more posts in the future including one about graduation week, our baseball games at Ford Field and my mother (her birthday is this week).
      As for Dr. Wreggit, I was glad that he was my doctor. My Dad was particular about people, but he always said good things about Dr. Wreggit. I enjoyed communicating with his family as I was writing this.

  5. Not sure what prompted me to Google Dr. Wreggit today, but I was so pleased to find your blog. My grandmother was an immigrant from Persia who settled in Highland Park in the early 20’s I think. She attended Highland Park Baptist Church and was befriended by Dr. Wreggit’s wife or mother, I forget which. Because of that relationship, our entire family became patients of Dr. Wreggit and also have memories of his house calls! When our son was born in 1972, my obstetrician recommended a pediatrician, but not without mentioning that he would get better care from Dr. Wreggit. Thanks for sharing.

    • Yes, Dr. Wreggit was more than a doctor. He was also a great person who loved the Lord Jesus Christ. I was very glad to have him as my doctor for the first twenty-five years of my life!

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