ASC's medical history is brought to light with the medical tools of Dr. Bunch
Article By Katie Sowards
For the month of March, the Adams State College Luther Bean Museum is displaying a collection of medical instruments from past Alamosa physician, surgeon and past Adams State faculty member, Dr. Littleton Bunch.
Bunch was born in Statesville, N.C., in 1922. He completed his undergraduate work at the University of North Carolina, and continued his education in the medical field at the University of Maryland where he graduated as a general practitioner. Upon earning his medical degree, Bunch moved to Denver in 1947 to do an internship at the Colorado General Hospital. While living in Denver, he met Janis Bagley who became his wife in April of 1949. The newly married couple moved to Winston-Salem, N.C., where Bunch completed another internship at the Bowman Gray University. The couple then made their home in Artesia, N.M., while Dr. Bunch practiced medicine with his older brother for a year to earn money for more schooling at Yale. During this time, he and his wife had their first child, Glen, in 1950.
As planned, the family moved to Connecticut where Bunch attended Yale University to earn training in surgery. It was at this time that another child joined the Bunch family as Beverly was born in 1951. Once again, the family picked up and moved this time to Vermont where Dr. Bunch did a residency in surgery for one year at the University of Vermont. After completing this residency, he knew that he wanted to permanently live in Colorado. He loved the west and the atmosphere of a small town. He decided to write a letter to hospitals located in small towns in Colorado. Elton Reese, administrator of the Alamosa hospital, was the only person who responded to Bunch's letter and suggested the family make a visit to Alamosa. The Bunch family came to Alamosa and as they drove into town, they pulled into a gas station where a college student was pumping gas. Bunch pulled his car next to the student and asked if Alamosa was a good place to live. The college student, former Adams State College coach, Dr. Joe Vigil, replied that Alamosa was a great town and recommended it highly.
Bunch received job offers from hospitals around the valley, but the deciding factor that brought him to Alamosa was the fact that the hospital was near a college. The Bunch family made their home in Alamosa in 1952 where he began practicing medicine as a family practitioner. He preformed surgeries, worked in the emergency room, delivered babies, and made house calls. His last two children, Fred and Kathy, were born in Alamosa.
Bunch especially loved the college atmosphere and wanted to be in an academic environment. He volunteered as a teacher at Adams State where he taught biology classes, such as anatomy and physiology, and public health. Later, he began teaching medical terminology for those who were in pre-med programs. Dr. Fred Plachy, emeritus president, decided that Bunch should receive a salary for teaching, and so Bunch was paid $1 per year. Later, he was given a full salary for teaching at Adams State. He taught from the 1950s to the 1980s. His medical office was located downtown, across from the Pizza Hut next to the Century 21 Realtor. Later, he had an office built across from the hospital making it more convenient for his patients to have lab work and x-rays done. His family lived across from Edgemont providing a convenient location for a medical doctor and teacher. It was not unusual for Bunch to see patients, run home to pick up notes for a class, teach his class, and then return to his office to finish up the day with more patients.
Bunch had a great love for sports. When the college's athletic doctor left for two years to receive more medical training, it was the privilege of Bunch to become the temporary doctor for the Adams State athletes. He was a kind man who had a healing presence about him. He loved to laugh and he felt that it was a privilege to live in the San Luis Valley. He genuinely enjoyed life and people earning him the nick name of "The Jolly One."
For the month of March, the Luther Bean Museum is displaying many of the medical instruments and books owned by Bunch. These items, donated in October of 1989, include a Tonsillar Coagulation Set, Hemoglobin meter, various surgical instruments, and many of his medical books. Bunch has left an amazing history in these items and is a remarkable addition to the history of Adams State.