Page 15 - Senior Link Magazine Fall 2021- Online Magazine
P. 15

Dr. Robert Salem                         The Foundation                      air force

                                                                of the "Builder"

                                                                 by Jane Bromley

                                                      Sudan, opened a little     Paris. When President Eisenhower
                                                      dry goods store, and       came to Paris to meet with
                                                      moved into the back of     European VIPs, Dr. Salem was
                                                      it. They had two young     on the team assigned to care for
                                                      children before Joe was    him in case Ike suffered another
                                                      able to afford a house,    medical emergency during his
                                                      which he bought for        visit. (He didn’t.)
                                                      $25 and two pairs of
                                                      overalls. Joe and Beth     During his two years in France,
                                                      laid a hefty foundation    Dr. Salem used his free time to
                                                      for their son that has     travel around Europe. WWII had
                                                      supported his enormous     only been over for a decade, and
                                                      accomplishments for        he saw the devastation of war
                                                      nearly nine decades.       firsthand. “There were bombed
                                                                                 out buildings everywhere.” The
                                                      Robert and his sister      concentration camp at Auschwitz
                                                      Betty grew up working      made a tremendous impact on the
                                                      in the store and hoeing    young doctor. “That stayed with
                                                      and pulling cotton in      me. It shaped me as a person.”
                                                      the summers. Despite       His mother’s uncle Hub Hyatt had
                                                      the meager lifestyle,      been killed in action, and Dr. Salem
                                                      Dr. Salem describes        paid a poignant visit to Hyatt’s
                                                      his childhood and          grave at Henri-Chapelle American
                                                      parents as wonderful.      Cemetery in Belgium. Seeing the
               very story has a back story,           He graduated from          9000 graves there instilled a deep
               especially the epic ones.      Sudan High School in 1946 and      and fervent patriotism in the
         EDr. Robert Salem is one of          Texas Technological College in     young man.
          Lubbock's most accomplished         1950. The Korean War started,      The medical profession was an
          and best-loved physicians and a     but Robert was given a deferment   easy choice for Robert Salem. He
          member of the generation aptly      until after he completed medical   watched his parents regularly
          called “the Builders”. But before he   school at Southwestern in Dallas.   help people and observed their
          was born 50 miles away in Sudan,    In 1955, the young intern was      satisfaction and fulfillment in
          Texas, his life story had begun over   commissioned in the Air Force and   doing it. He also had an innate
          7000 miles away in Lebanon. His     assigned to Fitzsimmons Army       love of science and an insatiable
          paternal grandparents emigrated     Hospital in Denver. The young
          to the U.S. from the Middle         man from West Texas found
          Eastern country when Dr. Salem's    himself in close proximity
          father, Joe, was a young boy. His   to then-President Dwight
          grandfather’s early demise forced   Eisenhower when he was
          Joe Salem to become a breadwinner   brought to Fitzsimmons
          at the age of 12. By the time he    after suffering a heart attack.
          was 21, he was working as a         Fortunately, “Ike” was able
          traveling salesman, occasionally    to run the country for a few
          staying at the hotel in Spur, where   weeks from Fitzsimmons
          he fell for the young lady whose    while he recuperated.
          grandparents, the Hyatts, owned     The USAF sent Lt. Salem
          the inn. Not long after the couple   overseas to Orly Airfield in
          married in 1931, they moved to

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