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'Kindness, compassion' personified Grafton physician

Dr. Joshua Omotunde

GRAFTON, N.D.—Dr. Joshua Omotunde was remembered for his kindness, compassion and devotion to his patients by those who worked with him for years.

Omotunde, who practiced family medicine in Grafton for 21 years, died Monday, Aug. 7, at his home in Grafton, N.D. He was 61.

His death "was quite a shock," said Alan O'Neil, CEO of Unity Medical Center, Grafton. "It's quite a loss to the community. We are very shocked and devastated."

Omotunde "was held in high regard by those who knew him. His dedication to his patients, staff and family were top notch."

O'Neil recalled the doctor's "infectious smile. He would light up the room."

Leanne Campbell, a nurse who worked with Omotunde for 17 years, said, "He was a very kind and caring doctor and person, very patient. He was wonderful to work with. His patients adored him."

Omotunde provided care to the entire age spectrum, "babies to the elderly," she said. "He treated them all with compassion. ... He would listen to patients' concerns and help them any way he could."

"Dr. Omotunde had a great presence in the clinic," said Dr. Jared Marquardt, who recently started his practice in the community that serves as the Walsh County seat.

His death creates "a huge void for us to step up and fill," Marquardt said . "He'll be greatly missed."

Marquardt and Dr. Matthew Viscito are the remaining physicians in town. They practice family medicine at Grafton Family Clinic.

Unity Medical Center will recruit another physician, O'Neil said, although he and others say it will be difficult to fill Omotunde's shoes.

Jo Petersen of Grafton, president of Unity Medical Center's operating board, called Omotunde's death "a terrible shock and loss."

"He was loved by the community (and) that love was returned," Petersen said. He told me several times, 'This is the best place in the world to live. It's the people.' He loved the people here."

In the past decade, "through all of changes the medical center has gone through, he was always on board," Petersen said. "He was a team player."

Omotunde's greatest attribute was "his kindness," she said. "He had great empathy for his patients. You can't bottle that."

During a prayer service held in his honor at the hospital earlier this week, Petersen noted the impact on staff members, "how very moved they were by his passing. There were a lot of tears."

"He had a wonderful relationship with his staff" whom he treated with respect, she said.

Practicing medicine in a small community is much different than in a metropolitan area, Petersen said, speaking from personal experience as a former nurse.

"It's a totally different ballgame when you're standing at the bedside of a father of a friend," she said. "In a small town and a small hospital, we are family.

"To think, he came so far—from Nigeria—to be a member of that family."

Born and raised in Nigeria, Omotunde attained the rank of major in the U.S. military and was stationed in Germany during his service.

His brother, Dr. O.S. Omotunde, practiced in Grafton and Park River, N.D., until he died in December 2012, O'Neil said.

Omotunde is survived by his wife, Janet; sons, Joshua, Jr., and Israel, and daughters, Busole and Anike.

Funeral arrangements are pending with Tollefson Funeral Home in Grafton.