CARDIOLOGY, PRIMARY CARE AND NUTRITION

Blogpost: Uncle Bob Walked 4 Miles a Day

I am saddened to say that my much loved and respected Uncle Bob passed away this week at age 87. He died in Greene County, Pennsylvania, in the town he was born. He had his first heart attack on his 50th birthday which is July 4th and very fitting for this patriotic veteran of the Korean war. Back then there were no stents or blood thinners other than aspirin. He was given a beta blocker and an aspirin as his only intervention. He was told to walk 4 miles a day and watch what he ate. He faithfully walked 4 miles a day, every morning, rain or shine, dogs or no dogs chasing him, around the little town where he lived his entire life. He was a rural mail carrier so he did not get much exercise during his job driving on country roads other than to walk up country drives to personally deliver the mail to shut ins or work to get his Bronco free from the snow banks he encountered in the winter. If you sent a package to his town, you only needed to put the address of Mt Morris, PA and Uncle Bob knew where the person lived. His diet change was substituting cereal for the eggs and meat he ate in the morning. He ate one red delicious apple everyday as well. His evening meal was potatoes and vegetables from the garden in the summer with local meat. There would still be a homemade pie or cake now and then. He took a statin for high cholesterol as directed by his doctor, and leaned up a little even though he was never much over the normal BMI.
Walking 4 miles a day was not all that Uncle Bob did, however. He was the Fire Chief of the local Fire department for over 60 years. He did all of the fire truck maintenance as well as attending all of the fires. He also was a mechanic in the evening with my father, working on the maintenance of my dad’s tank trucks for his business.
So his day was walk 4 miles, drive his route, go to fires, work on trucks, and tend to a garden. In other words he moved most of his day and lifted and pulled and bent. He also was socially engaged with the fire company, the American legion, the church and Lion’s Club. After he retired, he no longer drove the route and instead began mowing yards and plowing snow for those who were not able. In other words, he moved even more when he retired. Despite this, he needed to have a coronary bypass about 15 years after the heart attack. He recovered and went back to his routine not really missing a step. He developed arthritis in his knees that limited his walking to 2 miles eventually, and then it gradually became just walking to do his everyday chores that included the full-time care of his wife with dementia. He kept moving. He kept engaged with his community. He was a dedicated servant to his family, friends and community. He helped anyone that needed an extra hand. He was extremely mechanical and could fix about anything. Then his body let him down, and he passed after surgery to remove a tumor from his colon.
87 years, less than 3 weeks in the hospital in his lifetime, few medications, and no sick days off from moving or rest days off from life. I believe his movement and engagement with his family and community was the reason for his lifespan. His father lived to be 89 and was always moving.
Some would say that diet did not matter much but I disagree. I believe the difference between living into the 80s with a slow deterioration versus a few decades longer lies in the nutrition. He almost had the Blue Zone life with the garden, the movement, and the social engagement. But the foods of convenience entered the picture along with the continuation of animal products and fried foods. It resulted in macular degeneration, heart disease progression, and arthritis that ultimately limited his movement. It saddens me to see his community and others like it have the potential to have a longer health-span and lifespan if only the nutrition part could be changed. We fail to see the affects of years of metabolic wastes that sickens our cells ultimately causing dysfunction and lifestyle diseases.
My Uncle Bob was a kind, caring, selfless man that lived a life of service to others. He is a great example of what a good and decent man represents. I respected him greatly and will always have many fond memories of my time around him. He was an example of how moving and interacting can help to improve lifespan. I believe the next step is for people to recognize the potential of plant based nutrition to improve not only lifespan but health-span.
Rest in Peace Bobbie R. Delaney, you will be missed.

5 Comments
  1. Reply
    Pat Walker

    That is so sweet and heartfelt.
    My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family at this sad time.

    • Reply
      Dr. Dulaney

      Thank you

  2. Reply
    Carolyn Keener McFarland

    Your blog is not only a beautiful tribute to your Uncle Bob (our neighbor and friend), but also very informative about health and dietary issues. Thanks for sharing. I’m so sorry for your family’s loss. Bobby will be sadly missed in our little community.

    • Reply
      Dr. Dulaney

      Thank you

  3. Reply
    Suzette Trainor

    Thankyou for sharing this beautiful blog about your Uncle. A lot of heartfelt truth and wisdom that I hope inspire others.

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