Doctor killed in chase remembered

July 29, 2008 9:06:31 PM PDT
We're hearing from the sons of a local doctor killed at the end of a police chase Monday. They tell a story of a man who thought of others, before thinking of himself. Wesley Gustafson, 75, an innocent motorist was killed yesterday as he drove on the west side, police say, by a driver fleeing from police. Sons of the Houston doctor say they are still in shock, but they have received phone calls from the hundreds of patients whose lives he touched or healed along the way.

Gustafson was one of Galveston's gifted students graduating from high school at just 15. His sons Wesley III and Eric say their father went into the Navy and served in the Korean War before mistakenly taking a med school entrance exam he thought was for engineering school, but he aced it.

"In hindsight he realized he had found his calling accidentally, he was here to help people I don't know how else to put it," Eric said.

He's been known as Doctor Gus since then practicing medicine at two Memorial Hermann locations and Twelve Oaks delivering 800 babies along the way.

"My dad was obviously a great dad to us but I think he was an even greater doctor to his patients," Wesley said.

His sons say it was what he did in his private practice that set him apart.

"I remember in junior high and high school times it would be 10 or 11 at night and he would be leaving with his medical bag to go to people's homes," Eric said.

The two brothers say their father often put patients even before his own family.

"People who didn't have money to pay and he would never turn them away ever," Eric said. "That's the type of person he was."

Doctor Gus was planning to open yet another new practice on Richmond next week. He had just stopped by to check on the construction progress Monday morning before becoming the innocent victim of a police chase when the suspect crashed into his SUV.

"As a family we are in shock and we feel it is a needless way to end a wonderful life," Wesley said.

The grandfather of five was active beyond medicine in Houston even working with the Houston rodeo for years.

His children say they are mourning, not just for themselves, but the young grandchildren who will never get to know their grandfather and all the patients he'll never again treat.

The sons made a difficult visit to the crash site Tuesday which was just around the corner from his home. Funeral arrangements are being made for later this week.

The man accused of leading police on the chase which killed the doctor is facing murder charges. Danny Shipp is being held without bond because there are other criminal cases pending against him both in Harris County and Louisiana.

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