Drs. Leonard Ditmanson and Brendan Phibbs

Leonard Ditmanson is the doctor son of a doctor/missionary who was the son of a missionary and the son of a daughter of a missionary. He was born in Taiwan where his parents operated a medical clinic that they started out of their home and grew into a 1,000-bed hospital.

Ditmanson, who in April returned to that clinic to give the grand rounds on AIDS in Mandarin, has for more than a dozen years served a far-flung population that, in many cases, is poor and closed off from many sources of health care.

His appreciation of Van Morrison and his "Wavelength" is appropriate: "When I'm down you always comfort me. / When I'm lonely you see about me."

Ditmanson graduated from Augsberg College, the Lutheran school in downtown Minneapolis that also is the alma mater of another popular permafrost émigré, Robert Luther Olson. After finishing at the Mayo Clinic, Ditmanson scored a residency at University Medical Center. A gifted, selfless internist, Ditmanson then went to Pima County's Kino Community Hospital, where, among his other duties, he worked the H.I.V. clinic.

Despite the near-constant mismanagement (our words, not his) of Kino allowed by various Boards of Supervisors, Ditmanson provided outstanding care at Kino for 12 years, including two as chief of staff. He has moved on to a new practice, with Dr. Jennifer Cameron, near Northwest Hospital, but continues to work the Kino H.I.V. clinic and--barring more lunacy from county management (our words, again)--will soon be helping on Kino rounds.

You are everywhere you're s'posed to be.
And I can get your station
When I need rejuvenation.

The father of five, Ditmanson is loving, dedicated, aggressive and completely unpretentious. He has little tolerance for meddlesome bureaucrats, be they government or HMO types.

He knew, probably by age 4, that he would be a doctor. At 12, he was scrubbing with his dad, whom he calls a "doctor's doctor who loved his work and was always happy."

Four of Ditmanson's siblings are medical doctors; the fifth is a Harvard-educated sinologist. Our Ditmanson is the only one to sport a World Series Championship ring, presented by the Diamonbacks, whom Ditmanson treated along with members of the Chicago White Sox while at Kino.

You never let me down
You never let me down.

Not much can intimidate, slow or obstruct Brendan Phibbs. From Northwestern University medical school, Phibbs was training at St. Luke's Hospital in Chicago when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. Within a fast swirl of time, Phibbs was riding in the 12th Armored Division in France and Germany. He was among those liberating Dachau and another concentration camp. His book of his service as a frontline medic, The Other Side of Time, won a Pen West award. It has been reprinted under the title Our War for the World.

Phibbs does not boast or cloak. He is as straightforward as the ramrod and clipped pace he deploys to make his rounds at Kino Community Hospital, the frenetic Kino clinics and the University of Arizona College of Medicine, which he joined as a cardiologist in 1971.

And ever since, Phibbs has responded to the queries of southsiders wanting the doctor to "tell me what's ailing me." Phibbs has dispensed his aide at Kino since it opened in 1977 to replace the worn-out county General Hospital.

Through it all, Phibbs has suffered the unending line of county political buffoons. The Kino opponents are easy to handle. It is the supposed supporters and meddlers who require more work and more of Phibbs' time to dissolve the clots they insert in the system.

Phibbs also is remarkable for another gift; he leaps onto yet another battlefield to help the harmed and disadvantaged for free: Phibbs testifies as an expert witness without exorbitant fees--without any fees.

At 85, Phibbs is a model and a marvel.