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Former Air Force surgeon Dr. Armin R. Fuhlbrigge dies at 92

ProMedica Toledo Hospital (Counselman Collection/Flickr)
January 06, 2020

Dr. Armin R. Fuhlbrigge, a former Toledo family physician, died Monday under hospice care at ProMedica Ebeid Hospice Residence in Sylvania. He was 92.

He died of natural causes, his stepdaughter Gloria Sheppard said.

Dr. Fuhlbrigge was born Nov. 30, 1927, in Coleman, Wis., to the Rev. William and Hilda Fuhlbrigge, but he made Toledo his home after first interning at what is now ProMedica Toledo Hospital, later returning for residency until starting his own family practice.

He never refused medical help to anyone, regardless of their ability to pay, Mrs. Sheppard said.

Many times he would accept vegetables and other goods in exchange for his services, and after retiring his practice in 1991, tossed tens of thousands of dollars in IOU’s he’d collected in lieu of payment.

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His wife, Shirley, recalled one patient from Monroe with multiple sclerosis who couldn’t get out of his car to enter the practice. Dr. Fuhlbrigge would treat him at his car door in exchange for eggs.

“People that didn’t have insurance, he didn’t want to fool around with Medicaid so he just did it for free,” Mrs. Fuhlbrigge said. “That was our whole life.”

His reputation and distinguished service to his community earned him the Degree of Fellow, an award through the American Academy of Family Physicians recognizing the “champions of family medicine.”

Medicine, though, wasn’t his first choice.

Dr. Fuhlbrigge initially pursued the seminary, continuing his family’s legacy — his father and younger brother were both ministers — before deciding there was a better way for him to help others.

He attended the University of Wisconsin, receiving his bachelor of arts degree in 1951, his bachelor of medical science in 1952, and his medical degree in 1955.

Dr. Fuhlbrigge served as a captain and flight surgeon in the Air Force and Air Force Reserve from 1956-62 before putting down roots in Toledo.

Outside of his practice, there was nothing Dr. Fuhlbrigge couldn’t do, according to Mrs. Sheppard and his youngest son, Thomas Fuhlbrigge.

He enjoyed golfing and woodworking. He fitted the first floor of his former Toledo home with stained glass windows. And Dr. Fuhlbrigge was an avid sailor, competing in the Bayview Mackinac Race — which is considered one of the most challenging freshwater boat races in the world — and traversing the Caribbean islands with his wife and two other area physicians.

Dr. Fuhlbrigge first retired to Grayling, Mich., before moving to Leesburg, Fla., where he lived until moving back to Toledo in March to be closer to family.

Surviving are his wife of 50 years, Shirley; sons, Peter, Robert, and Thomas Fuhlbrigge; daughter, Elizabeth Zofchak; stepsons, Mark and Steven Fosgate; stepdaughter, Gloria Shep- pard; sister, Lois Goeres; 15 grandchildren, and nine great-grandchildren.

Services will be private. Arrangements are by Newcomer-Northwest Chapel.

The family suggests tributes to ProMedica Ebeid Hospice Residence.

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