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Seear recalls sights of a lifetime

Physician retires
from health dept.

After resisting Nazis, going on whaling expeditions and providing aid in developing nations, a Lincoln County Health Department doctor is finally ready to retire.
“Everything has to end,” said Torben Seear who has worked as an obstetrician and gynecologist with the Lincoln County Health Department for eight years. “I’m 89-years-old now, and I think it’s time.”
His coworkers at the health department are sorry to see him go.
“He is such an interesting man,” said Wanda Backus, a certified nursing assistant. “We tell him all the time he should write a book. He’s been everywhere and done everything.”
Seear always knew he wanted to be a doctor. Since early childhood he informed inquiring adults about his ambitions, and after becoming the first person in his family to attend college, he made his dream come true.
Soon after he earned his degree, Seear served as a doctor in World War II.
“It was terrible,” he said. “You never knew what day you would be murdered.”
After the Nazis took over Denmark, Seear joined the underground resistance, which once led him to help an injured pilot escape German custody.
Following an adventure that could last many men a lifetime, Seear felt unfulfilled.
“After the war, I got restless because everything was so quiet,” said Seear. “So, I signed up for a whaling expedition to the South Pole.”
Seear made two such expeditions, but often felt alienated on the Antarctic Ocean.
“In general it was dull because people were healthy,” he said.
Life became much more interesting when a pretty young singer arrived on the whaling ship as it took 12 passengers from Norway to South Africa.
“I met her on board,” said Seear of his wife, Turid. “We fell in love right away.”
The couple has managed to keep that love strong.
“He and his wife have been married for over 50 years, and they’re still like newlyweds,” said Backus.
Prior to getting married, Turid studied music in Ohio. After she returned to the United States, the young couple had two children in Denmark, but soon considered a change.
“She kept saying how wonderful it was in the United States so we immigrated,” said Seear.
The Seears started their American life in Buffalo, NY, but after having their third child, the family moved to Gastonia where Seear opened a private practice.
“There were many babies and few doctors,” said Seear of his reasoning for moving.
Life in the South proved quite different from life in his native country.
“When I came in ’54 there was segregation, and you couldn’t buy beer,” said Seear. “But life has changed remarkably in Gastonia and here. Life improves steadily.”
Over the years, Seear became accustomed to his adopted home. He enjoyed treating his patients from infancy to adulthood, something that did not often happen in his native Denmark, which has socialized healthcare.
“It’s a very satisfying way of practicing medicine and obstetrics,” he said.
When Seear turned 65, he retired from his private practice, but he wasn’t ready to stop working.
“I wasn’t going to settle down,” he said. “I was only 65 years old.”
He spent his later years traveling to developing nations working as a doctor in poverty ridden areas.
“You’re always short of medicine, and you’re always short of just simple things,” said Seear. “It was very educational to see how terrible conditions were.”
At the tender age of 81, Seear decided to accept a job at the Lincoln County Health Department where he befriended his coworkers.
“I fell in love with him,” said Backus. “He’s like my grandpa. Everyone here has gotten really attached to him.”
Despite his age, Seear spent his years at the health department working hard and efficiently.
“We never knew how old he was, but we’ve all been amazed by his stamina and strength and energy,” said Connie Hall, the nursing director. “We’re sorry to see him go. I think he’s sorry to go too, but it will make his wife happy.”by Sarah Grano

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