Reid physician, his wife named Cambridge City Citizens of the Year
Jan. 19, 2021 -- A surprise waited under the Christmas tree for James Bertsch and his wife, Norma, this year.
But it wasn't a present from Santa. This came courtesy of the Cambridge City Evening Kiwanis.
For 60 years, the organization has honored at least one person with its Citizen of the Year award, typically given in a surprise announcement during a large community event. But those plans had to be altered this year thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Instead, the plaque was wrapped and placed under the Bertsch family tree like any other gift.
During a family gathering the day after Christmas, the couple opened the box to find the award inside announcing their selection as the 2020 honorees.
"(The award is) an acknowledgement that there's at least some people who think you worked hard and should be honored in some way," Dr. Bertsch said. "My wife is a big part of it. Everything that we've done we've done together."
Bertsch, D.O., and his wife set up his practice in the town in 1977. They also own and operate the Building 125 antique store in Cambridge City and have been involved in historic preservation efforts in the community. For 40 years, they operated a prize-winning dairy farm.
"I can't think of a more deserving couple," said Billie Kester, Vice President for Continuum of Care at Reid Health. "They are very dedicated to the community and to their fellow residents."
Both grew up on local farms and graduated from Lincoln High School in 1966. After they married two years later, the couple moved to Vincennes so Dr. Bertsch could attend college. His original plan was to become a veterinarian, but he was inspired to go in a different direction by the couple's family doctor, Richard Keys.
"What we found was he was the busiest guy in town, but when you got in there, he didn't rush through. If you needed two minutes or 22 minutes, that's what you got," Dr. Bertsch said.
An internship took the couple to the Dayton, Ohio, area where Dr. Bertsch eventually practiced for a short time.
"I thought that's where I wanted to be," he said, "but then the other doctors left and I thought if ever there was a time to make a change, now's that time."
The family returned to Cambridge City and has stayed ever since.
"This honor makes official what everyone in Cambridge City has known for a long time -- that Dr. Bertsch is a great leader and advocate for the community. His colleagues at Reid Health are very proud of him!" -- Thomas Huth, M.D., Vice President of Medical Affairs
"Taking care of the people that take care of you. What more can you ask for?", Dr. Bertsch said. "Home is home. I wouldn't change a thing."
He joined Reid Health in 2013 and now is part of Reid Primary and Specialty Care - Cambridge City at 1154 S. State Road 1.
"It's meant more than I can describe because I never anticipated it would be this nice or this good," Dr. Bertsch said of joining Reid.
"Had I known then what I know now, I would have done this years ago. I'm very appreciative of Reid Health. I couldn't have been treated any better."
For Thomas Huth, M.D., Vice President of Medical Affairs at Reid, the award given to the Bertsch family simply affirms the high esteem in which the couple already is held in the community.
"This honor makes official what everyone in Cambridge City has known for a long time - that Dr. Bertsch is a great leader and advocate for the community," Dr. Huth said. "His colleagues at Reid Health are very proud of him!"
"This is a wonderful honor for Dr. Bertsch and Norma. Their love for their community, positive attitudes and their dedication to community service have been an inspiration to many." -- Craig Kinyon, Reid Health President/CEO
That includes Rohit Bawa, M.D., Reid ENT and chair of the Reid Health Physician Associates Network Operating Council.
"I have known Dr. Bertsch as a colleague for more than 25 years, and he is a very hard-working and amazing physician and an asset to Cambridge City, Wayne County and Reid Health," Dr. Bawa said. "He truly deserves this honor."
Craig Kinyon, Reid Health President/CEO, said the Bertsch family has the qualities that make them ideal recipients of the award.
"This is a wonderful honor for Dr. Bertsch and Norma," he said. "Their love for their community, positive attitudes and their dedication to community service have been an inspiration to many.
"Cambridge City certainly has two stellar people as their Citizens of the Year who dearly love their community and the people they serve with."