BY MIKE LEONARD
Jean Creek likes to tell the story of how he first got interested in becoming a physician — sitting in the window well of Indiana University’s Owen Hall as a 9-year-old and watching the medical students in the basement dissect cadavers.
“My interest in medicine was reinforced later on,” he adds with a laugh. Reinforced and demonstrated in more than six decades since the longtime Bloomington resident earned his medical degree from IU in 1952.
Creek was a family practice physician who later became an internist. He counted IU President and Chancellor Herman B Wells as a friend and patient from the 1970s until Wells’ death in 2000. He also served as team doctor for the IU football and men’s basketball teams.
Creek taught medical students for 35 years as director of medical education at Bloomington Hospital and served as a clinical professor of medicine for the IU School of Medicine’s Bloomington program.
In 1972, Creek co-founded Internal Medicine Associates, now Premier Healthcare, which describes itself as the largest physician-led, multi-specialty provider in Southern Indiana.
Despite the demanding schedule of a medical practitioner and educator, Creek says he lived by a rule to take a month off every year: two weeks to go back to school and two weeks to travel with his wife, Donna, daughters Julie and Teresa, and son, Jeff. Donna died in 2007, and in 2008 he maried her sister, Doris, who also had been recently widowed. “At age 87 I think I’m done traveling overseas,” he says, citing a benign brain tumor as a complication. “I’ve done my bucket list.”
The longtime physician laments the cost of education in general and a medical degree in particular. “When I was on the (medical school) admissions committee (1977–2000), students were leaving with an average of $85,000 worth of debt and I know it’s more than that now,” he says. [Today the average debt for a medical school graduate is $176,678.]
The Creeks have established four scholarships for medical school students at IU and another in the Jacobs School of Music. Performing music actually enabled the Evansville native — who still plays his trumpet — to graduate from IU debt-free. He was still in
high school when he started socking money away. “I had a seven-nights-a-week job playing in a dance band in one of the dumps outside of Evansville,” he says. “It was a dump but it paid well. I made more money than my dad did teaching school.”