By Mike Harris – Special to The Alpine Mountaineer
“Oh, What a Night” goes the classic rock tune performed by The Four Seasons in 1963, and that certainly was the theme for the farewell and happy retirement celebration held on the evening of April 25 at the San Moritz Lodge for Drs. Walter and Leslie Bramson.
Hosted by the Crestline-Lake Gregory Rotary Club, Goodwin’s Market, Lake Gregory Company and members of Dr. Bramson’s staff, around 250 people attended the retirement party for the Bramsons.
Those attending found plenty of sandwiches, soft drinks, cookies and cake to enjoy before the celebration began.
Host for the start of the evening was Bill Mellinger, pastor at Crestline First Baptist Church.
“Thank you, Lord,” Mellinger said during the start of the celebration. “Thank you for sharing them (the Bramsons) with us.”
During Mellinger’s presentation, a certificate of appreciation from 3rd District Supervisor Dawn Rowe was presented on behalf of the county.
But that wasn’t all.
Beverly Ogden, who had served as Dr. Bramson’s office manager for many years, now retired, presented Dr. Bramson with a special award, a statue representing a country doctor, with words of appreciation.
She stepped down to where he was seated in the front row and, with tears of joy, gave him the statue with a big hug.
For more than 41 years, Dr. Bramson served as the town doctor to the Crestline community.
Walter Bramson graduated from University of California, Irvine, College of Medicine in 1978. When attending medical school, he said, he dreamed about always being a small town’s doctor in Southern California.
Later in the celebration, Dr. Bramson spoke briefly to the crowd of friends about his finding Crestline.
“God is amazing,” he said about what he saw as slim chances of finding a small town in Southern California looking for a family doctor. “But he showed me a small town that was looking for a doctor. That was Crestline.”
He, and his wife, Leslie, made Crestline their home, raising a family of four – two boys and two girls.
Leslie Bramson was right there working with him. She has a doctorate in Public Health Education, is a registered nurse, a certified health education specialist, has a master’s degree in Global Health (Humanitarian Aide) and is an international board-certified lactation consultant. She also served for several years as a Rim of the World school board trustee.
As soon as the couple entered San Moritz Lodge, they were eagerly greeted by friends and patients, each expressing a real love for the couple.
Smiles, hugs and words of joy followed them throughout the evening. “We’re going to miss you!” many told them.
Those in the audience were invited to say a few words, and many expressed a deep appreciation for Dr. Bramson having saved their lives. Some were stories of being saved from heart attacks, stroke or other life-threatening conditions.
“Thank you for saving my life,” many said.
Others spoke of Dr. Branson being their family’s doctor for generations, from grandparents to parents and then their children.
“You have had a generational influence to our family,” one resident said.
When everyone had had a chance to speak, it was Dr. Bramson’s turn to say a few words, mostly of gratitude for the show of love during the evening.
When he knew it was time to retire, and sell his medical practice, he said, he was concerned about leaving the community behind without a physician who would give the same level of service to the town as he had. He prayed deeply about it, he said.
“God did a miracle,” he said. “I found three doctors who care deeply.”
Bramson sold his practice to Optima Health, led by Andro Sharobiem, MD, Sindy Tadros, DO, and Vicente Vazquez, MD.
“It’s time for us to leave,” he said. “Thank you all.”