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Jardine: Dr. Samuel Champaign, 85, made house calls

From the e-mails and voice mails:

FINAL HOUSE CALL -- When Samuel Delos Champaign died at 85 a week ago, his many patients lost not only their doctor but also their best friend.

Champaign did something routinely you just don't see anymore: He made house calls, and often on his own time.

In fact, wife Dorothy often chauffeured him to these appointments, just as she drove him to what became his last day of work at the Sierra Health Clinic in May.

"He would do house calls for patients who couldn't make it into the office," said Carmen Perez, a medical assistant at Sierra.

"He'd have his wife drive him, on his personal time, to see them -- even if it wasn't to treat them with medication. He went to give them hope, no matter what."

It was an old-school way of doctoring, Perez said, that doesn't exist anymore in the age of managed care.

"Nobody does that nowadays," she said. "They're too busy with their own lives to take the time to go see somebody. He knew they could use that love."

Patient Khanno Baijan had hip surgery five years ago. She followed with rehab treatments but still found it difficult to visit Champaign at Sierra. So he came to her home and spent considerable time with Baijan and her husband, Benjamin.

"He was a very nice doctor," said Ani Baijan, their daughter- in-law. "We loved him very much. He treated everybody nice, and Khanno loved him. He came here maybe six or seven times."

A 59-year-old patient named Gloria, who declined to give her last name, remembered the kindness he showed when her mother and husband died five months apart.

"He just always made me feel better," she said. "When he'd see little kids out in the waiting room, he'd come out between patients, shake their hand and give them a pencil. He'd tell them, 'Stay in school.' "

The family ran a detailed obituary last week in The Bee. Many of his patients, along with those he worked with at Sierra, Modesto Primary Care and other clinics, attended his funeral Sunday.

"I hear all these things about him from his patients," Dorothy Champaign said.

A final comment from patient Gloria speaks volumes.

"When I went there (Sierra Health Center) two weeks ago, there were only three or four patients in the waiting room," she said. "When he was there, it was always packed. It was like he was missing. All the patients were missing.

"Now I find myself having to find another doctor, and that is hard."

HEY, HANDSOME -- Apparently, Opie is not the ugliest dog in the world.

The Chinese Crested breed, owned by Lori Pullen of Modesto, received plenty of attention at last weekend's Sonoma-Marin Fair, which hosts the annual World's Ugliest Dog contest.

A victim of neglect, the 10-year-old dog has battled cancer and his lower jaw was ruined by the lack of dental care. Pullen found him online in the spring and has gotten him much of the veterinary treatment he needed.

By entering him, she gained a forum to implore people to take better care of their pets. Opie did well in the online voting, finishing second with 2,775 votes.

But the voting was only a gimmick to increase interest and didn't figure in the contest's outcome.

The title -- and $1,600 in prize money -- went to a boxer named Pabst owned by a man from Citrus Heights.

WA-A-AY BEFORE E-MAIL -- Modesto City Councilman Garrad Marsh came across a 1910 postcard on eBay.

The postcard featured a photo of Salida's old Hotel Curtis and the town's general store. It had been mailed from the Salida post office and addressed to Miss Hattie Huntley from her sister, Dora, who wondered how Mom and Dad were holding up during a mid-July heat wave.

Huntley, by the way, lived way over yonder in Escalon.

The hotel burned to the ground in 1932 and the store did the same in 1996.

Online bidding for the postcard began at $10. It sold for $132.49.

REWARD OFFERED -- Three years ago July 5, 28-year-old Joey Ross was found dead in a carport along F Street, Oakdale's main drag. He'd been stabbed three times, once through the aorta, while walking home from the downtown bar he owned with his father, Bob Ross. Joey had called his mom, Nancy, from a pay phone along the way and seemed frightened, she said.

The case remains unsolved and authorities hope a $50,000 reward offer will loosen some lips.

Gov. Schwarzenegger announced the reward in January. The family hopes that by highlighting it again -- with the anniversary of Joey's death looming -- that someone will come forward with information leading to the arrest and conviction of his killer or killers.

The family has established a new Web site and telephone number for leaving confidential tips. The Web address is www.JoeyRossTips.com and the phone number is 996-8477.

VET CENTER BIRTHDAY -- The Modesto Vet Center, at 1219 N. Carpenter Road, is celebrating its first real year of offering counseling and therapy services for readjustment, including post-traumatic stress disorder. Since July, director Steve Lawson and his staff have helped more than 400 veterans deal with emotional, marital and other issues.

"If you're a combat veteran and you need help, please come and see us," Lawson said.

Contact the center at 569-0713.

Jeff Jardine's column appears Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays in Local News. He can be reached at 578-2383 or jjardine@modbee.com

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