By LYNDON A. ZAITZ
Of the Keizertimes
Dr. Vern Casterline, Keizer’s first practicing physician, was joined by Dr. Gerald Bowerly to celebrate Keizer Family Physicians’ 60th anniversary on Tuesday, Sept. 7.
The medical office was originally spelled Keizer Klinic when it first opened in 1950 in a newly built professional building on River Road just south of Chemawa Road.
Casterline, 93, remembered the founding and earliest days of the clinic. He and Gerald Bowerly, Keizer’s first dentist, shared one receptionist, Hazel Johnson and one waiting room. Also sharing the building was Mootrys’ Pharmacy, managed by Walt Kechter. In time, Casterline added Daraleen Wade as the bookkeeper. At that time River Road was a rural two-laned street. As he told Keizer historian Ann Lossner the going rate for the delivery of a babe then was $35. It ws a time when doctor still made house calls for $5.
His first nurse was Doris “Skip” Libby.
In 1956 Casterline moved his practice to the other side of River Road, where Willamette Valley Animal Hospital now operates. The clinic was there for the next thirty years until it moved into a brand new building north of Chemawa Road now located between the U.S. Bank branch and Wittenberg Lane. Bowerly was with the clinic until 1960 when he branched out to his own office on Dearborn Avenue.
Casterline and his wife, Geri, along with Dr. Bowerly and his wife Margo, enjoyed a catered lunch from The Wild Pear.
There have been only four other doctors who have worked at the clinic over the past 60 years: Jeff Turcott, Greg Thomas, Jay Jamieson and Julie Gilbert. Turcott is no longer with the clinic.
Casterline and Bowerly are both as spry as ever, still involved with the community. After retiring from active practice in 1986 he became the medical director for the Salem Plasma Center until 2008. Bowerly retired in 1980.
As the clinic closed for lunch on Tuesday, the staff joined in at the luncheon buffet. Then, gathered in the clinic’s waiting room, Drs. Casterline, Bowerly, Jamieson, Thomas and Gilbert, surrounded by the staff enjoyed a cake wishing Keizer Klinic a happy 60th birthday. [MAP: 11]