Dr. John Batty, 98, passed away Friday at Community Hospital in McCook, Nebraska.
After serving in the U.S. Navy from 1942 to 1946, Dr. Batty accepted a position at the McCook Clinic, where he was a general practice physician. He continued to practice medicine in McCook until his retirement in 1984.
He originally came to McCook at the age of five to live with an aunt and uncle after the death of his mother. His father died a year later. The trauma of experiencing such profound loss at an early age no doubt shaped him into the compassionate adult he was to become.
He attended McCook High School, McCook Junior College and graduated from the University of Nebraska Medical School in 1938.
Dr. Batty has served on the McCook School Board of Education and the YMCA Board of Directors. He was an active member of McCook Rotary, where he took a lead role in hosting the "Travel and Adventure" series, and the development of tennis courts on West Third Street and the Rotary Walking Trail at Kelley Park. He was a life-long member of the First Congregational Church, where he helped with their annual International Food Fair. He was an avid sailor, gardener, jelly-maker, and supporter of both the visual and performing arts.
Dr. Batty was the McCook Chamber of Commerce 2010 Community Builder Award recipient.
More than all of these accomplishments, the kind-hearted doctor was a lover of life. He was so interested in a wide variety of subjects, and he loved to share those interests with others. His generosity was felt by many, and his genuine care for his fellow man was evident in his actions and conversations.
He was opinionated, mostly about health issues, but also about common sense. In 2004, he attended a Red Willow County Commissioners' meeting to publicly challenge the federal government's tightening of arsenic levels from 50 parts-per-billion to 10 or fewer parts-per-billion. According to the federal government, Dr. Batty said, arsenic causes bladder cancer. "Bladder cancer is rare to begin with," he said. "Why should we (specifically the city of McCook) spend $11 million to meet EPA standards when we don't even know arsenic caused these cancers? It's preposterous!"
Dr. Batty's many friends and patients will more than likely recall other such conversations they have encountered with the compassionate orphan boy who has made such a tremendous impact throughout his long and productive life.
He is survived by two sons, Stephen Batty of McCook and Paul Batty of Lake Osewego, Oregon, four grandchildren, and long-time companion, Devonnabelle Reynolds. And a community in Southwest Nebraska who will not soon forget the caregiver who exemplified what is good about humanity.