EATON — In the late 1940s, a 13-year-old boy rode his bicycle two miles to and from his job at the local golf course, where he worked as a caddie, in Buffalo, New York. Little did he know that 70 years later, he would still be riding his bicycle back and forth to work, only instead of being a caddie, he would be a doctor, and instead of Buffalo, New York, it would be Eaton, Ohio.
Dr. James A. Brenn DMDC retired in early April, 2022, after practicing in Eaton for over 63 years. Brenn was born and raised in Buffalo, New York. His father graduated from Cornell University with a degree in electrical engineering in 1927, but could find no work due to the poor economic climate created by the Great Depression. Brenn’s father was able to acquire a job heating houses using coal.
“So, he went into the coal business,” Brenn narrated, “We hauled coal all over Buffalo in a ‘39, ‘40 Chevrolet ton and a half dump truck. And it was noise, noise, noise. We didn’t realize the effects of noise and what it could do to your hearing, and other things from the coal dust.”
Because Brenn’s father spent so much time around coal dust, he developed health issues which caused him to become more health conscious, which Brenn accredits his interests in chiropractic medicine too.
Brenn found himself studying chiropractic medicine under Dr. H. Riley Spitler at his school, Central States College of Physiatrics and Chiropractic, located at 399 E. St. Clair St, Eaton, Ohio, which also housed Spitler’s clinic. Spitler opened his practice in 1915, and was the first doctor of his kind in Eaton. Brenn graduated in 1959, and served as the Dean of Central States College of Physiatrics and Chiropractic until the unfortunate passing of Spitler, in November of 1962, when he died of food poisoning while aboard a train. Brenn purchased the practice at 399 E. St. Clair St. in November of 1963, and renamed it Spitler Memorial Chiropractic Office, in honor of his late mentor.
Without Spitler, Brenn made the difficult decision to close the school, and maintain the practice alone.
In 1966 Brenn served as the President of the Eaton Area Chamber of Commerce. Brenn explained that he enjoyed his tenure as president, however, it was at this time he discovered the impact accompanying his father in his dump truck back in Buffalo had taken on his hearing.
“My ears had started going a long time ago.” Brenn explained. Brenn’s wife, Marilyn, noted that her husband’s hearing was not an issue when he was alone with patients, however in large groups he failed to catch important details. This began the long road to Brenn’s hearing loss, which resulted in the need for hearing aids, and later, a cochlear implant.
When speaking of their marriage, Marilyn fondly remarked, “When we got married, he said, ‘now you can be my ears.’ I had no idea to the extent he was talking about.”
The Brenn’s have been married for 53 years.
Though Brenn loved riding his bike to work every day his entire life, loved his occupation and loved his patients, he believed it was time for a change. Turning 85 in June, 2022, Brenn looks forward to spending his retirement gardening with his wife, spoiling their dog, Riley, and continuing to care for their personal health and nutrition. Brenn expressed his love for Eaton, for his patients throughout his career, and noted how rewarding it all has been.
Reach Nathan Hoskins at 937-683-4057 and follow on Twitter @NathanHoskins13