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People & parties

Retired doctor gets VIP treatment

Published July 24, 2005

TRINITY - For all but one of the nine doctors at Radiology Associates of West Pasco, it's the only job they've had since their residency.

"That's an amazing testament, that they don't switch," said one of them, Dr. Howard Kahen, who attributes the long careers to the group's founder, Dr. Hugh B. Severs II. "He's a man of honor," Kahen said.

Perhaps that's why nearly 300 people packed the main dining room at Heritage Springs Golf and Country Club on July 17 for Severs' retirement party.

"This Kentucky-bred gentleman believes in a handshake as an agreement ... ," Dr. Charles Anthony, a colleague, told the crowd. "He set an example of shared abundance instead of greed. He said there is enough to go around."

Severs, who officially retired July 1, is thought to have brought the first CT scan to west Pasco after he founded the practice in 1974.

The doctor took quite a risk at the time by leaving a residency with a large Tampa practice for points north, where the first hospital, Community Hospital, had just opened. "It was a chance to start out on my own," Severs said. Dr. Vincent Cotroneo was in the same boat when he responded to an ad Severs placed for a doctor on an American College of Radiology flier. And it was Severs, not the area, that brought him here.

"The hospital was pink, and the roads were dirt," said Cotroneo, who moved from Washington, D.C. And at the hospital, "the X-ray equipment was pretty bleak," he said. "They bought it used, so it was already old."

But Cotroneo liked Severs.

"He was just straight and simple, and he had this deep Kentucky accent," Cotroneo said. "I felt like this was the right guy ... ."

The practice initially had five employees. Now, there are more than 100 in three offices.

The recent afternoon party was largely organized by the group's marketing director, Deborah Cavaliere. The event featured speakers and gifts, hors d'oeuvres, pasta stations and Chocolates by Michelle's towering chocolate fountain, with delictables to swipe through it.

As guests mingled and ate, a slide show of Severs and the practice was shown as pianist Debra Terry played tunes such as Billy Joel's New York State of Mind and Piano Man.

One guest, Good Samaritan Health Clinic chief executive officer Barbara Holton, recognized Severs for his contributions to the clinic for 15 years.

Well wishers described Severs as "folksy" and kind with tremendous integrity and a sense of humor.

Severs once drew in pencil around a mammography reading box, which the radiologists hold up to their faces to view X-rays. Dr. Denis Stewart was surprised by the resulting marks on his face.

Severs also made copies of the Volkswagen emblem and posted them all over Stewart's new Lexus. On the car's windows, Severs wrote "Just Married," though Stewart is single.

"He's a blast," Stewart said. "He's probably the most lighthearted one of the group."

At the party, though, Severs was quite serious and visibly touched. "I'm really overwhelmed at the gathering here," he said. "It's amazing."

Severs and his wife, Jeanne, will now travel and build a home on Lake Tarpon in Tarpon Springs.

"It's been quite a ride," he told the crowd, "and I've enjoyed it."

[Last modified July 24, 2005, 00:22:18]

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