Beloved Story County doctor returns to Iowa and joins Story Medical’s team
One of Story County’s most well-respected doctors returned to central Iowa this year after what some may have mistakenly thought was his lasting departure from the area three years ago.
In a turn of events that even he couldn’t have predicted, Texas native Dr. Timothy Leeds is back in Story County and practicing medicine again, this time in Nevada.
Leeds, 59 — who for 23 years as an OB/GYN doctor at the Doran Clinic in Ames delivered somewhere around 4,000 babies — is excited about his renewed career at Story Medical Clinic, located in the Story County Medical Center on the southeast edge of Nevada.
“I found retirement to be boring … some of us are good at retiring. I would have been bad at retiring,” said Leeds, who sat down recently to share the story of how it is that he left the Doran Clinic to go back to his home state, and then realized he was homesick for Central Iowa.
“It’s the people,” he said, about why he’s decided he’s really an Iowan at heart. “I wanted to get back to Iowa… I spent 23 years here telling everyone I was from Texas, and then I got homesick for Iowa. (Here) when people see you and say ‘welcome home,’ they mean it and that’s the best part of it.”
The reason Leeds and his wife, Barbara, left Ames three years ago was to be close to her aging parents. In January 2015, they moved back to the state they were both raised in and settled in Round Rock to help her parents, one 90 and one 87. Leeds worked for the first year-and-a-half at a clinic there, but that clinic wasn’t really his style, he admitted. So he was basically fully retired for the past year-and-a-half. When it came to helping his in-laws, he chuckled, “they wouldn’t let us do anything. There was absolutely nothing wrong with them. My in-laws failed to fail.”
In the meantime, one of Story County Medical Center’s nurse practitioners, Mary Carr-Peterson, who practices in Maxwell, had been staying in contact with Leeds about women’s health care questions she had. Leeds at first kidded her that he wasn’t doing that anymore, but he admits, he really liked hearing from her and continuing to play a part in women’s health. “I got to realizing I was looking forward to her questions.” Eventually, he just asked Carr-Peterson, “why don’t you offer me a job, and (Story Medical) did and here I am.”
The best part of Leeds current position with Story Medical is that it doesn’t mirror the type of incredibly busy schedule he had when he was seeing patients and delivering babies in Ames.
“I now have nights, weekends and holidays free,” he said. His wife, who moved up here just last month (he moved up sooner when he started work at Story Medical in September) is trying to get used to the idea of him actually being around and being alert when she sees him, because he has a job that isn’t requiring him to work long and crazy hours all the time. “Five years ago, she looked at me and said, ‘You’ve been sleep-deprived the whole time that I’ve known you.”
As to whether they would live in Ames again, or somewhere else, that issue was decided when they found the right home in Nevada. In fact, it’s a home once featured in the Nevada Journal — the old Spike Speckeen home, that is rumored to have once changed hands following a poker game. Barbara Leeds, being a lover of genealogy and history, saw that the home was for sale and wanted to have a look. “Before we bought it, she did an ancestry of the house,” her husband noted.
Leeds and his wife married while they were both college students at Texas A&M University. In fact, he said, they had already had their three children when he attended his first lecture in obstetrics. “Our last (child) was born prematurely at 34 to 35 weeks, and it was the first time I realized obstetricians did something,” he laughed. “That’s what started my interest in (that type of medicine).”
He knew before starting college that he wanted to go into medicine, he just wasn’t sure which area. But his interest in being a doctor came from a tragedy suffered by his mother. “My mother was in an ammonia truck accident on the freeway (in Houston, Texas).” He said it was a devastating accident, with several killed and many injured. His mother burned out both corneas in her eyes and scarred both lungs, “so I took care of her eyes for the rest of my high school time… That was my first taste of medicine, helping mom.”
What he’s loved most about women’s health care is talking to women. “I had three older sisters and an assertive mother … I’m used to talking to women. Men,” he said with a laugh, “I’ve got my limits on how long I can talk to guys.”
He also shared how much it meant to him to be part of all the baby deliveries he handled. “After the baby is born, for the next few days the mom is in the hospital and she’s just sitting there staring at her baby. You get to watch people fall in love (with their child).
“Why wouldn’t you want to do this?” Then he smiles, and answers his own question, “The hours.” The long hours are the biggest drawback to it.
He doesn’t have those hours to deal with any longer. So now, Leeds is trying to figure out some hobbies. “Being an obstetrician discourages you from picking up hobbies because you have to leave them to go deliver babies. So I’m trying to pick up some hobbies right now.”
One thing he has generally been able to make time for through the years is playing low-stakes poker with a group of guys. “We’ve never missed a month in 24 years. When I would visit Iowa for weddings and such, I planned travel around these every-other-week games,” he said.
He and one of his poker friends were also trying to come up with another hobby they could do and came up with archery. “Guns scared us, but bows and arrows felt better. We hunt balloons… We call it ‘slaytex.’”
While in Story County previously, Leeds helped out as a volunteer women’s health doctor at the Story County Jail in Nevada. He plans to talk to the jail staff about doing that again, if they need him.
What’s really cool about being back, he said, is having some of his former patients, even from Ames and other parts of the county, driving over to Nevada to see him for their health care. “It’s good seeing pictures of their kids and catching up with them.”
As for living in Nevada, he and his wife are still busy unpacking, but they’re also making friends. One of the neighbor ladies came over to welcome them, he said, and now she and her husband come over to sit and talk occasionally, which is nice.
As for being at the Nevada hospital, Leeds feels really good about that too. He loves it, he said, because of how nice people are and how passionate those who work at Story Medical are about their patients. “People here are enthusiastic about taking care of people’s health. If that’s not attractive, I don’t know what is.”