Longtime Middletown eye doctor, giant of Middie sports support dies at 98

Dr. Dick Nisbet, described as one of Middletown High School’s biggest athletic boosters, was remembered this week by the school’s greatest athlete following his death.

Jerry Lucas, who led the Middies to a 76-game winning streak and back-to-back boys basketball state championships, said of Nisbet: “No finer person ever walked on earth. He was the most special man I ever knew.”

Nisbet, who opened his ophthalmology practice in 1950, died May 25 in his Middletown home. He was 98.

Nisbet, an Eaton native, followed Lucas throughout his high school and college career at Ohio State University, traveled to Rome with his wife to watch Lucas win a gold medal in the 1960 Olympics and owned two courtside season tickets when Lucas played for the Cincinnati Royals.

Lucas said Nisbet was one of his “tremendous” fans.

“I liked him for what he did and who he was,” said Lucas, 80.

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Mark Kerns, a retired Middletown High School teacher and coach, became close friends with Nisbet and his late wife, Charlotte (Chuckie).

“He is a great representative of Middletown in every way,” Kerns said. “He was a great ambassador for what the city should look like. He was a great model, an example for all.”

Kerns said Don Donoher, the former University of Dayton men’s basketball coach, had his eyes examined by Nisbet in Middletown. Donoher never received a bill.

“That’s the kind of person he was,” Kerns said. “He did everything for everybody.”

One of Nisbet’s three sons, Paul, said his parents always had a positive outlook on life and that was reflective in how his father greeted friends.

“He’d always smile when he’d see people,” Nisbet said. “People would recognize him or he’d recognize them and he’d smile. Those were some special moments.”

Don “Woody” Withrow, 84, a 1953 MHS graduate, called Nisbet “a great man. Everybody liked him.”

Nisbet graduated from Eaton High School, Ohio State University and Northwestern School of Medicine before settling in Middletown 70 years ago.

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He was called into the Air Force during the Korean War and then returned to Middletown and Middletown Regional Hospital, serving as Chief of Staff in 1961.

He was a member of the First Presbyterian Church where he served as a deacon, elder, the board of trustees, and was regularly attending services until they were suspended in the past few months due to the coronavirus.

His family said Middletown athletics helped in his decision to settle in Middletown and were a “highlight in his life.” His devotion to Middletown athletics was recognized by his receipt of many awards including: The Gold Medal Award, Purple Spirit Award, The Ed “Skeeter” Payne Middie Spirit Award, The All-American Weekend Award, and the YMCA’s Stuart Ives Award.

He’s survived by his two daughters, Linda Lee (J. Patrick) Mohan, Nancy (Chick) Fraunfelter, three sons, Paul (Ronda) Nisbet, Steve (Judy) Nisbet, and Dr. Terry (Shawna) Nisbet, 17 grandchildren, 17 great-grandchildren, and several nieces and nephews.

Nisbet donated his body to Ohio State’s College of Medicine. A celebration of life will be held at a later date.

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