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Gonzaba family came here due to surgery in Missouri

Gonzaba family came here due to surgery in Missouri
Gonzaba family came here due to surgery in Missouri
Dr. John Gonzaba and his wife, Rita, play a game called 'Mexican Train,' similar to dominoes, with their two boys, John, 14, left, and Eric, 13. (Photo by Randy West)

When Dr. John A. Gonzaba went to Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., to serve out his military obligation, he was assigned to the general surgery department under Lt. Col. Stephen A. Bodney. The two surgeons worked well together and had a lot of mutual respect. They became good friends.
The day Bodney left the U.S. Army, he told Gonzaba, ‘John, if I ever need a partner, I wouldn’t mind having a guy like you.’ John said he thought Bodney was ‘just blowing smoke.’
Bodney, now 44, was recruited by Harrison County Hospital in Corydon, and he and his wife, Jeannie, moved to Corydon in the fall of 1998. Three years later, Bodney’s general surgery practice here had grown, and he needed that partner. He called Gonzaba, who, in the meantime, had also been stationed in Korea and Honduras, and suggested that he take a look at Corydon. Gonzaba, then 39, had fulfilled his 5-1/2-year obligation with the Army and was ready to begin civilian life as a general surgeon. He interviewed in his hometown, San Antonio, St. Louis, Detroit, Corydon, and elsewhere.
Of all the places that John and Rita Gonzaba looked at, they liked Corydon best. Texas was too hot, Detroit was too cold, St. Louis was tempting, but Corydon was just right, Gonzaba said. They wanted to settle in a small community with only one hospital. They found the people here warm and friendly; the town square had many festivals and other activities, which the Gonzaba family likes. Corydon has good schools, with friendly teachers and principals, an excellent band that competes at state, and sports programs. The town was close to a big city with plays, music, baseball and a major airport. And St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Lanesville reminded them of their churches back home in San Antonio.
The Gonzabas have not been disappointed. The surgeons’ practice is getting larger by the day. He and Bodney enjoy working together.
Rita Gonzaba, 40, is a housewife who’s interested in business, investments, gardening and shopping. (She earned a bachelor’s degree in business at the University of Michigan in Dearborn while her husband interned at a hospital in the area.)
She tries to go to all of their sons’ school activities. John Jr., 14, is a freshman, plays the alto sax for the Corydon Central High School Vanguard marching band, and he’s a guard on the freshman basketball team. He likes to play online games at home.
Eric, 13, is an eighth grader at Corydon Central Junior High School. He plays trumpet in the Vanguard, plays the piano, keeps stats for the girls junior high team, and makes the morning news announcements at the school. He’s president of the school’s honor society.
John and Rita are now bona fide band parents, going to all the Vanguard’s concerts, contests and fund-raisers.
When the Gonzabas moved to Corydon, all four volunteered a few hours each week after school, mentoring Hispanic students (and sometimes their parents) at Madera Ministries.
John grew up in San Antonio. English was his first language, then he learned Spanish. Rita grew up in Rio Grande City, on the U.S.- Mexican border. She learned Spanish first, then English. They met at a kidney dialysis unit in San Antonio, where John was a dialysis technician, and Rita worked in the business office. ‘After all my patients were hooked up, I’d go flirt with her,’ John confessed during an interview last week at their Deerfield Estates home.
Now that the Gonzaba boys are in basketball and band, they don’t have as much free time to devote to Madera Ministries.
Dr. Gonzaba explained: ‘What we did was nothing compared to what Sandy Gettelfinger and Christina Gettelfinger do for that ministry. It was only a small fraction of what they do.’
Gonzaba helps out the local schools by giving free physical exams for student athletes. He estimates that he and other physicians did between 130 and 140 last year.
Also last year, Gonzaba was elected to the board of directors of the YMCA of Harrison County.
Bodney says he and his partner are different kind of surgeons ‘ ‘He tries new things, where I’m more of a tried-and-true kind of guy ‘ but we balance each other. We’re different people, but we have the same values: good patient care, good patient and doctor relationships. Our differences aren’t so great that we don’t mesh. We build on each other’s strengths.’
The two have started doing a relatively new surgical technique at HCH for people with severe gastric reflux problems. It’s called Laparoscopic Nissen fundoplication and involves wrappng the stomach around the esophagus, to create a barrier for acid reflux. Gonzaba and Bodney did the first ‘fundoplication’ here on Nov. 3.
Gonzaba learned the technique in the Army and did more than 70 of them in three years.
Gonzaba said he and his family ‘are excited to call Corydon our home and we look forward to continued involvement in the community.’