Reunion Reflections: Ronald Sanzone, D.O.’68, recalls faculty characters

Some of Ronald Sanzone’s strongest memories of his student days at the College of Osteopathic Medicine and Surgery (COMS) – now Des Moines University – were of faculty who qualify for the description as, well, characters. For example, Stanley Miroyiannis, Ph.D., chair of the anatomy department, who wrote a book that was a collection of 500 questions about anatomy.

“When he’d given an exam, he’d ask a question from the book,” recalls Dr. Sanzone, a 1968 COMS graduate. “He’d duplicate the question further down, but the thing was, the answers were different.”

Byron Laycock, chair of osteopathic manual medicine, was equally colorful – literally so. Sanzone recalls him illustrating the autonomous nervous system on the board in colored chalk.

“It looked like a bunch of wires – it was comical. You couldn’t make heads or tails of it,” he says. “I recall when Dr. Laycock drew his multicolored fiasco of the autonomic nervous system, and he drew ‘Budge’s ophthalmic and emptying center.’ In the 50 years since I never knew or saw or heard of Budge.”

Sanzone also recalls the campus building then on Sixth Avenue and its lockers at “all angles” due to the uneven floor. He initially lived in the Phi Sigma Gamma fraternity house with Frank Clark, D.O.’68; later, the two got an apartment at 2800 Fleur Drive with Jim Snow, D.O.’68, and Tony D’Errico, D.O.’68.

“We all chipped in $40 a month. Because Frank is black, the landlord immediately evicted us,” says Dr. Sanzone. “We saw an attorney who said, ‘Just don’t break any rules.’ We never heard anything else from the landlord. We weren’t going to stand for that.

“Plus Frank was the only one of us with a car,” he laughs.

After his internship and residency with Oakland General Health Systems in Michigan, Dr. Sanzone practiced with Dr. Clark and Bernard Alper, D.O.’68, in Detroit until 1978. He then moved to San Diego and joined the medical group Sharp, where he served as chief of family practice and also became a hospitalist. He continues to work two days a week.

“What I like most about my job is the satisfaction I get every day. I enjoy the patients a great deal,” he says in a video interview on the Sharp website. He even stopped taking a salary for more than two years “to make sure this was a passion and not a job.”

“If I were sick, I would go to me,” he says. “I like what I do.”

Dr. Sanzone also enjoys chess, fishing and woodworking. He looks forward to attending his 50-year class reunion at DMU in May, in part because he hasn’t been on campus since graduating. Originally from New York, he first came to Iowa as a first-year medical student.

“It came as a shock,” he chuckles. “Tony [D’Errico] thought the campus was in Idaho. I said, ‘I didn’t know there was a difference!’”

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