- Associated Press - Monday, November 28, 2016

MITCHELL, S.D. (AP) - Walking through the halls of the Mitchell Clinic, Peter Reynen can’t help but feel a connection with his late brother, Mark.

Mark, a former physician at Mitchell Clinic, Ltd., died unexpectedly in June, and this week, his older brother Peter filled the vacancy he left at the medical center.

Prior to moving back to Mitchell Peter and his wife, Camille, lived in West Burlington, Iowa, where he ran a private practice. But, when Mark died, there was a need in Mitchell, both professionally and personally to help care for family matters, and Peter was ready to make the leap.

Since returning, he’s realized that Mark and the rest of the Reynens have built a respected reputation throughout the region - one he hopes to carry on, the Mitchell Daily Republic (https://bit.ly/2gItrZb ) reported.

“Because of my associations with Mark and my family, I’ve already got this positive cred and I haven’t done a thing here yet,” Peter said Wednesday. “We have a family reputation to live up to, not one to live down.”

And most of Peter’s family lives in or around Mitchell, aside from a daughter who lives in Texas, making the decision easier, he said. Paired with the ability to bring his talents to Mitchell and fill a void in the medical community, Peter felt like the move home “made sense.”

“I didn’t come to Mitchell to take Mark’s place, I came to Mitchell to take my place,” Peter said. “Nobody replaces Mark, but I hope I have similarities with Mark. Really, the things that are most important to us in the world are all here, so why not be here?”

Since starting work at the clinic Monday, Peter said roaming the same halls his brother did fewer than six months ago has helped him feel closer to Mark, but it has at times been difficult for others.

Some people who were Mark’s patients have teared up at the sound of Peter’s voice, claiming it sounds like Mark’s did. Others have flinched at the rebirthing of the title “Dr. Reynen” and “sized him up” when meeting for the first time.

“It’s kind of fair, in the cosmic sense of justice or balance if there is such a thing,” Peter said. “Going through school after me, Mark was always ‘Peter’s brother,’ and now I’m ‘Mark’s brother.’ It’s another reputation he left me to live up to, which is nice.”

Peter said the plan is to accept and embrace Mark’s legacy, rather than pretend it doesn’t exist. Instead of looking at Mark’s memory in the public’s eye as something that “needs to be overcome,” Peter said Mark is person who should be celebrated.

“It’s there and it’s real and it’s powerful, but I don’t mind it at all. It’s not something evil or bad, it’s just something that is,” Peter said. “I feel closer to Mark being in that space. It’s not like some ghost thing, it just was his place and his space and I like that.”

Similarly, Peter said since his brother’s death - and especially since arriving in Mitchell - he’s learned a lot about who his brother was “in his own world.”

At family gatherings, Mark and Peter didn’t talk about medicine, so Peter knew Mark only as his brother, not the widely respected doctor he had come to be.

But, for those who didn’t know Mark, Peter said he was funny but polite, kind and caring, athletic, strong and even-tempered, even from a young age.

“That’s one of the fun things about being at the clinic. As the youngest brother, growing up, his opinion was the last anybody wanted to hear,” Peter said. “When we wanted to play kickball, we didn’t ask Mark what he wanted to do, we said, ‘We’re playing kickball, Mark, come on.’ Now, I’ve gotten to learn what he was like when he was out in his own world, as more of his own person.”

Peter graduated from the Mitchell school system in 1981, and then he attended the University of South Dakota. From there, he attended seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, then medical school at USD and finally went to Lincoln, Nebraska to participate in a residency program.

At the completion of his residency in 1997, Peter moved to Milbank where he stayed for 15 years. In 2012, he moved to West Burlington, Iowa, where he went into private practice with a partner, and remained there until moving back to Mitchell this month.

The 53-year-old is equipped to handle a wide variety of ailments at Mitchell Clinic, Ltd., including health care maintenance, routine physicals, acute problems, colds and flues, sprains and broken bones. But his real passion lies in keeping people healthy and out of the clinic in the first place, which is a unique talent Peter believes he brings to Mitchell residents.

“I didn’t come here because the Mitchell Clinic is the best clinic in America, but it is great,” Peter said. “There’s opportunities to get better, and all of us have those opportunities. I have experiences I can bring to that, there’s a hospital I can work in, people to take care of and I have family here that we can be around.”

And, through all of his travels, Peter has always called South Dakota “home.”

Everywhere he’s lived has been more than satisfactory, Peter said, but the culture varies from place-to-place and every new city was unfamiliar. There’s a Greek word Peter associates with this feeling: storge, which means “the love of the familiar.”

“Mitchell is ‘storge,’ ” Peter said. “It’s familiar and you love what is familiar - what’s good about it and what’s not good about it, it’s still familiar and it’s comfortable.”


Information from: The Daily Republic, https://www.mitchellrepublic.com

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