David John de Harter, MD

De Harter, David 3648875_3789755 TP

Title: Retired Medical Director
Company: Mid-Florida Radiation Oncology Associates; Harter Land & Lumber Company
Location: Palm City, Florida, United States

David John de Harter, Retired Radiation Oncologist and Medical Director, has been recognized by Marquis Who’s Who Top Doctors for dedication, achievements, and leadership in Medicine.

David John de Harter was born April 12, 1942 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He and his brother Kimball, and father and mother, G. Herbert and Marion B. née Kahl, lived on a hobby farm in rural Waukesha County. After attending Salvatorian Seminary and graduating summa cum laude, he entered the Jesuit Order. But part way through the Jesuit novitiate he became ill. In recovery he encountered a doctor who steered him toward a career in medicine. He graduated from college with honors, entered medical school and graduated once again with honors. He served in the United States Navy as a physician, and advanced to the rank of Lieutenant Commander. After five years of active duty he was honorably discharged, and entered the residency program at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas. There he proved to be an inventive resident and developed, among other things, a system for more accurate delivery of radioactive sources. This novel approach and product earned him a trip to Florence, Italy, for a presentation to the XI International Cancer Congress of the UICC in 1974. This same independent research project won first prize in the MDACC Annual Clinical Training Research Project Competition in 1974. This research was published in the proceedings of the Cancer Congress (abstract), and in the Journal of Radiology (full paper). This system was used in patient treatment at the MDACC in Houston, Texas, and later at Stanford Medical Center in California. It became the basis of a product approved for clinical use: “Rapid Strand for Prostate Brachytherapy,” Nycomed/Amersham. He authored or co-authored a number of academic papers, particularly reports of altered schedules of cranial radiation for patients with malignant melanoma metastatic to the brain.

Now, the private practice of medicine does not allow for much in the way of invention, but even so, Doctor de Harter improved on the design of the Siemens linear accelerator’s target (for their 20 Mev unit). This was while he was department director at Immanuel Medical Center in Omaha, Nebraska. He designed and implemented a large and busy radiation treatment center in Omaha, and was the founding director of a radiation treatment center in Norfolk, Nebraska, a center built to honor the comedian Johnny Carson’s parents. He made time to chair committees and hold office in the American Cancer Society, the University of Nebraska Sheldon Art Museum, the Millicent Rogers Museum in Taos, New Mexico, and the City of Omaha Parks and Recreation Department, the City of Omaha Art in Public Places, and the City of Omaha Public Library. All this time he held a clinical faculty appointment at the University of Nebraska School of Medicine. After seventeen years in private practice of radiation oncology in Omaha he sold his practice to join Doctor Douglas Colkitt’s Equi-Med Corporation, first directing the Cancer Center of Northern Arizona in Flagstaff and Sedona, Arizona, (and holding a teaching appointment at the University of Arizona College of Medicine in Tucson, Arizona), then directing the Treasure Coast Cancer Center and the Florida East Coast Cancer Center in Port Saint Lucie and Fort Pierce, Florida, respectively. He has a lot of memories from his five decades of being a doctor and still recalls the morning of his first day at the Charleston Naval Base when he realized he needed to slow down and enjoy the journey ahead. His instructor in Taoism was a garbage collector whose truck was blocking the driveway. The doctor’s immediate response was a flash of anger, but the garbage collector’s warm Southern smile and “Mornin’ Cap’n, ain’t it a purrty day” greeting won the day.

De Harter is the loving husband of Diane Leigh née Kuebler, proud father of Renée, Andrew, and Susannah Lee, and very proud grandfather of Savannah Rae, David, Faith, Trevor, Faith, Josephine, and Elijah. He and Diane celebrated their golden anniversary in 2014. Their professional, financial, and family success are owing to an enduring love affair. Before they met Diane was active in Milwaukee’s repertory theater and symphony orchestra. She dated the likes of John Malkovich and Jerry Garcia. She must have seen potential in David to have accepted his proposal. He promised her she would see the world, and they have. They used to enjoy travel, collecting art, theater and cinema, dining, and their lake home. In retirement they enjoy their club, its golf course, their boat, their church, and most of all, their family. They are active in philanthropy benefitting the MD Anderson Cancer Center (the Phoenix Fund, the de Harter Prize for Excellence in Clinical Training Research, the Gilbert H. Fletcher Memorial Distinguished Chair), the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society (the David J. and Diane L. de Harter/Alpha Omega Alpha Visiting Professorship), the Jesuit Order, and the University of Florida School of Engineering. As another suitor sang:

“Sometimes the lights all shinin’ on me;
Other times I can barely see.
Lately it occurs to me what a long, strange trip it’s been.”

“Truckin’” Lyrics/Grateful Dead.

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