It’s hard to know what Dr. Gordon Walbroehl is more proud of: his pale green U.S. Air Force flight jacket or his bright red cowboy boots. At the moment both are taking a backseat to the newest addition to his wardrobe, his black “Donor for Life – 100 LTD” jacket.
Gordon reached his 100th lifetime donation milestone with his regular whole blood donation Thursday, Feb. 21 at the downtown Dayton Community Blood Center (CBC). The journey to 100 donations has sometimes been interrupted by his duties as an Air Force doctor. “I was out of the country for a time and took malaria prophylaxis pills and that deferred me for three years.” He also remembers the months he spent in Iraq for “Operation Desert Storm,” the first round of U.S. military operations against Saddam Hussein in 1990.
He began donating when CBC sponsored blood drives at Wright-Patt AFB. He retired in 1998 after six years of active duty and 25 years in the reserves. He taught family medicine at the Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine until 2009 and still works part-time at his practice in Beavercreek.
It was hard not to spot him in the Donor Room at CBC, and not because of his bright red shirt with the “100 LTD” sticker on the chest. With his legs crossed on the donor bed, you can easily see the gleaming leather of his well-worn, but still deep red cowboy boots.”
“I saw ‘em on E-bay,” he explains. “If you really want to know about them, it’s a long story. Do you have time?” Of course!
“Back in the 1950’s when I was growing up, the Sears catalog had two things every kid wanted: Lionel model trains, and cowboy boots,” he said. “They were both the rage. My parents wouldn’t give us either. They came from the school that you give kids what they need, not what they want.
“Fast forward 40 years,” he said, “and I’ve got a basement full of trains (all Lionel) and a closet full of cowboy boots! If they had just given me what I wanted when I was a kid, I would have saved a lot of money!”
Maybe Dr. Walbroehl had to wait awhile for the boots and trains, but CBC never has to wait very long before he returns for another blood donation. And that has saved a lot of lives.