Chasing an Ideal | Stechschulte entered the University at age 17 as a pre-med student. He participated in student government and was in the band—not as a musician but as a designer of props for the halftime shows. He also took part in a well-publicized freshman revolt against class beanies.
War Intervenes | By 1951, Stechschulte joined the military to fight in the Korean War. “I enlisted in the Navy over Christmas when suddenly my medical school acceptance came through from the Saint Louis University School of Medicine—along with a military deferment,” he says. “So with three years of pre-med, including two summer sessions—and without my degree—I went to med school.”
Shifting Priorities | In medical school, Stechschulte’s primary interest was in becoming a surgeon. But after his internship at St. Elizabeth Hospital in Dayton, Ohio, he was called into the United States Air Force and assigned to pediatric care, ironically his poorest subject in medical school. “It wasn’t long until I decided that I liked pediatrics better then surgery,” he says.
Making an Impact | Stechschulte began his practice in 1960. In those days, he recalls, it was common to make house calls at 6:00 a.m., visit the hospital to see sick children and newborns, then start office hours at 8:00 a.m. In 1962, Stechschulte successfully cared for a premature baby who weighed 1 pound, 1 ounce. Several years later he was the attending physician at the birth of quadruplets—a rarity in those days. “They did well, grew and were perfectly normal,” he says. “Needless to say, this did no harm to my practice.”
Rabid Publicity | In 1970, he was a major player in the first recognized case of rabies survival. He was called to treat a 5-year-old boy who had been bitten by a rabid bat. Stechschulte and his associate, Dr. Tom Weis, treated the child with assistance from the Centers for Disease Control. The success landed them in Time and Newsweek magazines.
The Half-Century Club | Active in the pro-life movement, Stechschulte and his wife, Susan, received the Mercy Club Award from St. Rita’s Medical Center for their humanitarian efforts in 1987. Stechschulte retired in 1994, and the couple now lives in Ocala, Fla., where they recently celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary, an event attended by their seven children and the majority of their 16 grandchildren.