Life Stories

LIFE STORIES: Blessing doc drawn to extreme hobbies

Dr. Dewey Hanzel poses for a photo at Blessing Physician Services on Thursday, Jun. 7, 2018. In addition to being a podiatrist, the Montana native used to ride bareback horses during professional rodeos. | H-W Photo/Jake Shane
Jake Shane 1|
By Herald-Whig
Posted: Jun. 11, 2018 9:45 am

QUINCY -- Dr. Duane "Dewey" Hanzel's hobbies, from playing rugby to rodeo roping, have always reflected his station in life.

The Montana native got his nickname from his football teammates in high school. Sporting a long pony tail at the time, his friends took to calling him "Dewey" -- a joking reference to the Dalai Lama. The ponytail has been gone for some time, and today, he is most recognizable in scrubs and a white coat.

Hanzel grew up in Kalispell, Mont., a mountain valley city of just over 20,000, near Glacier National Park. There, outdoor activities, especially skiing and anything else snow-related, were king.

"It was an outdoor paradise," he said. "Anything you want to do outside, you can do there."

Hanzel was into all of it -- skiing, hunting, fishing, horseback riding, cycling -- anything that took him outside. He refers to his various hobbies as "binges," because he would become consumed with whatever drew his attention at the time.

"I rode bicycles, and then that became racing bicycles in criterium races," he said. "That was more like Indy car driving, a lot of wrecks."

Hanzel describes himself as the "kid that frustrated teachers" because, while he got good grades and graduated with distinction, he focused more on recreation than his studies.

The pattime that was most deeply ingrained in Hanzel's heritage was rodeo. Several family members in his lineage had competed. He grew up riding horses, but it wasn't until high school that he gave rodeo a shot.

"On weekends we would do green stock rodeos," he said. "You'd pay to ride. It would be like five bucks a head."

Hanzel went to college on an engineering scholarship, but a few years into his career, he realized he had made a mistake.

"I just didn't like it," he said. "After three years, I decided to go back and get my degree in biomedical science."

While searching for a medical specialty, he happened to attend a podiatry conference. The mechanical workings of the lower extremities appealed to his engineering background, and he decided to focus on the feet.

He attended the University of Ostheopathic Medicine and Health Sciences in Des Moines, Iowa -- now Des Moines University -- one of the only schools in the country to specialize in podiatry at that time.

All through medical school, his internship at Riverside Hospital and his residency at New Mexico Veterans Affairs Health Care System, Hanzel belonged to two professional rodeo associations -- the National Rodeo Association (NRA) and International Professional Rodeo Association (IPRA).

"Once you get into it, it's like anything else -- kind of addicting," he said of his rodeo days.

The first time he met Margaret -- the woman he has now been married to for 25 years -- during residency orientation, he entered the elevator she was riding on crutches from a rodeo injury. His preferences for more extreme activities have led to broken fingers and ribs; he has broken his nose on at least five occasions and received countless cuts and bruises.

Margaret liked horses, which gave the couple a common passion. When their son Lane and daughter Olivia were old enough, they too began riding and caring for the horses and traveling to rodeos on the weekends.

"It was a family deal," he said. "It takes so much time that, if your family isn't doing it with you, you just won't see them. We weren't going to do that."

The family moved from Montana to Quincy in 2001. The weather on the early-February move kept the trip interesting. Constant snowstorms over the five-day trip dropped snow in front of the family's path and just behind them, but they remained in a clear patch the entire time.

"We had four horses, three grown dogs, one puppy, two kids and two crew-cab pickups," he said. "It was an adventure."

Hanzel gave up the rodeo in residency, and he gave up roping once the kids grew older, preferring instead to focus on coaching his son's baseball team. He is now the assistant coach, while his son coaches the same team on which he once played.

"I have zero desire to ride a horse now, and even less desire to get on something that is bucking, but I have no regrets of doing that. The things I've done all had their time, but I'm not lost without them, and they're not my identity," he said. "Everything I've done was always about taking advantage of where I was in life."

Hanzel's newest "binge" is golf, a pastime he took up two years ago. Since he came out of private practice to join Blessing Physician Services five years ago, his life has become more relaxed. That stress relief does not mean his life has slowed down any, though. He still sees 55 patients a day.

Staff Writer Matt Dutton will ?bring you a story detailing the ?life of a local resident each Monday.

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