Priest reflects on chiropractic career

Tuesday, April 19, 2016
Dr. Wayne Priest recently retired because of health issues after 50 years as a chiropractor, including nearly 25 years in Berryville. (Photo by David Bell/Carroll County News)

Dr. Wayne Priest's chiropractic clinic has closed its doors after serving Berryville for nearly 25 years.

Priest, who worked as a chiropractor for 50 years, chose to retire this year because of health issues. A week after his retirement, he was diagnosed with lung cancer.

"I wanted to work until I was 80," Priest said. "I'm only 74, so I didn't quite manage that."

Priest was born and raised in Berryville and has been a familiar face in the area for most of his life. He explained that his father owned and operated the Berryville machine shop for years, saying his mother ran the Modern Beauty Shop on the square.

"Since I was a kid, people here knew my dad and my mom, so they knew me, too," Priest said.

Priest worked in Missouri during his first 25 years as a chiropractor.

"I had always wanted to start in Berryville, but I couldn't get into this state at first when I got out of school," Priest said.

Chiropractors were required to complete basic science courses in certain states in order to practice at the time, Priest explained.

"You had to have taken those basic sciences in the right states, and you had to pass with a certain grade. That's the only reason I didn't start practicing in Berryville from the start," he said.

Instead, he began his medical career working with a family practitioner in northern Missouri. There, he said he got more experience than he had expected.

"One of my first days there, this old family practitioner asked me 'You ever delivered babies?' and I said 'Hell no.' He told me 'Well, we deliver babies around here,' and we went from there. I did a bit of everything at that first practice," Priest said.

Priest returned to set up his practice in Berryville in 1989. He and his wife, Nancy Priest, reconnected shortly afterward.

Nancy Priest said their families had been friends for years. She recalled attending First Baptist Church with Priest when the two were young, saying their mothers went to beauty school together around the late 1920s or early 1930s.

"Our families have been friends for years. We met again around the time Wayne set up his practice here in Berryville. His first wife had passed away, and I had recently returned to the area. We reconnected and have been married 18 years," Nancy Priest said.

Priest offered his own take on their history.

"I didn't really get to know that brat over there," Priest said, smiling as he gestured at his wife, "while growing up because she was five years younger than me. That's a big difference when you're in school. I wish it hadn't been that big of an age difference because now I know we would have gotten along just fine."

Laughing, Priest said he will be spending his retirement trying to keep his wife off his back.

"Not true," Nancy Priest laughed. "We're going to focus on getting ahead of his lung cancer. The chemo stopped working after the first few months, so we'll be trying a new treatment called Opdivo that focuses on the immune system."

Priest said he will miss working with young athletes the most. An athlete himself, Priest played football during high school and attended Missouri State University on a football scholarship.

"I had to stop by a chiropractor sometimes when I played football, so I've been on both the receiving and giving ends of this business," Priest said.

Priest said he would ask student-athletes what sport and position they played and share his own sports experiences with them.

"It put them at ease and let them know I knew what I was talking about. A lot of them would even swing by the office when they were home from college to say hello," Priest said.

"Wayne even did the athletic physicals for free for a number of years," Nancy Priest added.

Priest said he'll miss many things about his work.

"Many of my regular patients became good friends, and I loved the diagnostic work of course," Priest said.

He would not have retired, Priest noted, if his health weren't a concern.

"Being a chiropractor for the last 50 years has been really enjoyable," Wayne Priest said. "It's ending sooner than I had hoped."

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