TARPON SPRINGS — To tell the story of Dr. Themistocles J. Diamandis is to tell the story of Helen Ellis Memorial Hospital and the larger story of the local community.
He was born at the hospital in 1929 when it was a 12-bed facility called Tarpon Springs General Hospital.
He started working there when there were only two other doctors on staff.
And he spent the next 47 years caring for patients from an office next door.
Diamandis, a general practitioner, retired Friday.
"There's a hole there that's never going to be filled," said his daughter, Katherine Diamandis. "You have someone who was born in Tarpon Springs and raised in Tarpon Springs and dedicated almost 50 years of his life to the people there and there's never going to be someone like that again."
Known by many as "Dr. D," Diamandis delivered many Tarpon Springs' babies and provided care to generations of Greek families.
He's known for making house calls, regardless of the hour or the patient's ability to pay.
"So many times, he'd get a call at 3 or 4 in the morning and he'd be out the door. I can't tell you how many times he did that," said his ex-wife and good friend, Mary Diamandis.
If he was treating a child with a fever, he could be gone all night; Diamandis wouldn't leave until the fever had broken.
"I worried about people's children as if they were my own," said Diamandis, 79.
City Commissioner Chris Alahouzos remembers Diamandis' house calls to see his parents when they were ailing.
"He's an icon in Tarpon Springs," Alahouzos said. "He is not only a superb doctor but he is the best person you can imagine. He's a person who cares about people and cares about his patients."
Diamandis said he never tired of the long hours.
"I enjoyed working," he said. "All I needed was one day's rest and I could work all day and night."
Diamandis earned a pharmacy degree from the University of Florida and went to work as a pharmacist at the old Webb's City drug store in St. Petersburg. He left to attend medical school at the University of Miami, before returning to Tarpon in 1961. He worked at the hospital for several years before opening a private practice in 1970.
Katherine Diamandis said her father has shown the same dedication and compassion to his patients over the years as he has his family.
"He was never someone after fame or fortune in his life," she said. "That was not his goal. It was purely for the love of medicine and to take care of people."
Rita Farlow can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 445-4162.