Highly respected Tewes finds time to serve alma mater

Highly respected Tewes finds time to serve alma mater

By Jake Knabel, Sports Information Director

Thirty years after graduating from Concordia, Dr. Douglas Tewes continues to serve the institution that helped him find his way. Despite a demanding schedule and a dizzying number of affiliations to hospitals, colleges, high schools and other athletic teams, Dr. Tewes makes Concordia as much of a priority as any of his other duties.

“He’s being pulled in what seems like 100 different directions,” Concordia head athletic trainer Randy Baack said. “He always has time for our athletes and for me. If we ever have athletes that need him, he wants to squeeze them in right away, sometimes between surgeries. He’ll call me at 9:30 at night to talk about MRI reports.”

Tewes, who owns a bachelor’s degree in biology from Concordia, has worked as a physician at Lincoln Orthopaedic Center PC since 1993. On May 11 he delivered the commencement address at Concordia’s graduation ceremony where he was bestowed with the Doctor of Laws degree “for the prolonged demonstration of superior service and dedication to a field of study.”

A 20-year employee of Concordia as a team physician, Dr. Tewes boasts a distinguished résumé that includes current responsibilities as a staff member at several area hospitals such as Seward Memorial Hospital. He has also carved out an impressive career in the sporting world, working in a medical capacity in the early-1990s for the Minnesota Vikings, Timberwolves, Twins and Golden Gophers.

Tewes continues to be heavily involved with athletic teams, providing his expertise to Concordia, Doane, Nebraska Wesleyan, the Lincoln Saltdogs (baseball), the Lincoln Stars (hockey) and to high school and junior high athletes. He says his work with Bulldog athletics has proved to be as rewarding as any experiences in his career.

“Working with college level athletes at Concordia is a joyful thing for me,” Tewes said. “I appreciate them and they appreciate me. They are truly competing for the love of competition. They are just a great group of people to work with. It’s very rewarding to me.”

The Seward native arrived as a student at Concordia unsure of the path that lay ahead of him. Tewes thought of becoming a teacher like many who attended the school formerly known as Concordia Teacher’s College, but he soon realized he was meant for a different calling.

“Interactions between me and the science professors moved me towards the idea of being a physician,” Tewes said. “Had a professor not planted that seed in me, it would not have come about.”

Ironically, Concordia offered little in the way of pre-med programs at the time. Tewes entered the University of Nebraska Medical Center, uneasy about whether he came fully prepared.

“On my first day I was literally scared to death,” Tewes said. “By the end of the first month when the first exams were finished, I was sitting near the top of the class. I realized that the training at Concordia prepared me very well. I didn’t know it going in. Subsequently, I think that’s been the experience of the majority of Concordia graduates who have entered medical school since the early-80s.”

Beyond simply preparing him for a successful career, the Concordia experience instilled in Tewes a commitment to Christ and helping others. According to Tewes, his faith grew stronger and Christianity simply “became part of daily life.”

Those who have interacted with Tewes can see clearly how these values exude from him. Former Concordia athletic trainer Aaron Madsen, a nine-year member of the Bulldog sports medicine staff, has known Tewes for a dozen years. Madsen noticed how profoundly Tewes touched the lives of many in Lincoln and surrounding areas, and he never did it in effort to receive some tangible award.

“He is a very humble guy and never really wants public attention or the spotlight in his life or career,” Madsen said. “His actions speak loudly and are truly selfless, always putting the needs of others ahead of his own.”

Standing upon his background of service, Tewes delivered a strong message at Concordia’s commencement, encouraging graduates to use their new freedoms and responsibilities in ways that model Christ.

The highly-respected doctor then accepted yet another honor in receiving the Doctor of Laws degree, something Tewes called “very unexpected and very humbling.”

Though Tewes may not have seen it coming, the honorary degree went to a fitting person, whose achievements go beyond the scope of any award. A 2009-10 nominee for “The Best Doctors in America” award, Tewes somehow fulfills all of his professional responsibilities while caring for a family that includes six children and keeping actively involved in the Lutheran church.

How does he do it? According to the humble Tewes, the credit goes to his wife, Denise, and his co-workers.

“I have partner in my wife who is unbelievably gifted and who’s able to go with the flow,” Tewes said. “It helps our very busy family immensely to have someone like her who is so organized. I can’t take much of the credit.

“And I have great office staff that recognizes the pressure that I face. They are exceptionally talented and get me where I need to be. It’s really the people around me that allow me to manage everything.”

This support system gives Tewes the chance to continue his enriching engagement with Concordia. As a director on the Concordia Foundation, he co-chaired a fundraiser that raised $65 million. He also has provided everything from routine checkups to major surgeries for Bulldog athletes, maintaining a theme in his life of helping others and giving back to the school that aided the formation of the person he has become.

“He loves Concordia,” Baack said. “He’s always looking out for Concordia’s best interests. You really can’t quantify that. He’ll do anything for us. It’s amazing the amount of time he gives up.”

For Tewes, the reward outweighs the many hours of commitment.

“It’s a huge responsibility with kids from all over the country at Concordia,” Tewes said. “It’s a common experience to be on the phone with parents thousands of miles away about their sons or daughters and the medical intervention they need. Being able to allay the fears they may have and help them through the process is something I feel very good about.”

30 May 2013

Watch Dr. Tewes' commencement address »

Dr. Douglas Tewes, a 1983 Concordia graduate, continues to serve Concordia as a team physician in addition to his myriad of other medical duties. Tewes delivered the commencement address (above) inside Walz Arena on May 11.