Born into public service

Richard Gohl has focused his adult life on public service. It's a process he was born with, he said, and it's something he has taken a lot of pride in for most of the last 60 years.

Born in St. Louis, Gohl moved to Glendale in 1938. After spending three years in the service and one year at Compton Community College, Gohl attended the Palmer College of Chiropractic in Davenport, Iowa. He received his degree in 1949, started his practice in Glendale three years later, and 2009 marks his 57th year as a chiropractor here.

But his desire to help his community does not begin and end with his profession.

Since 1959, Gohl has also participated in several charity and service organizations, including the 20-30 Club, the Northwest Glendale Lions Club and the Glendale Retirement Assn. Additionally, the chiropractor has helped fund more than 30 other organizations, including the YMCA and YWCA.

Gohl believes a successful society is based on the principles of the U.S. Constitution — a balance of freedom and responsibility. The best way to promote that concept is through active service, he said.

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JON HABER: Why do you think service programs are so important, particularly in the United States?

RICHARD GOHL: You have to have freedom, responsibility and service in order for citizens to develop a society that functions properly. It's the principles that set up the [U.S.] Constitution in the first place. The U.S.' charity concept is basic. Any time there's been an emergency in the world, we're always the one there to help first. So the nature of us to help within the United States has always been there, even though the mechanisms may have been altered a bit over the years.

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Q: How did you first get involved in service programs?

A: Well, the first group I belonged to was the 20-30 Club after World War II. I volunteered after returning from the service in 1946. Then I got involved in the Lions Club 40 years ago.

Q: What are some of demonstrations you have set up with the 20-30 Club and the Lions Club?

A: The active 20-30 club is a junior Rotary club. We make a wood model of a child that we put in the crosswalks of the schools so that we protect the kids going on it. Also, every time someone was killed on a corner, we also put a cross on the corner?.?.?.?With the Lions Club, we raise funds many different ways. We have about 30 members right now, and we set up many events to raise funds and scholarships for many organizations, like the YWCA and YMCA.

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Q: You have been a volunteer for the last 50 years. What has continued to motivate you to serve others throughout all this time?

A: It's an innate process. You're born with trying to help people. I don't think the person who receives a gift ever gets as much out [of it] as the person who gives it. You have to do what's best for the people. I feel like I've done that all my life.

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Q: Through your profession, how do you serve others as a chiropractor?

A: As a chiropractor, I don't deal with symptoms. I deal with correcting cause. I also teach chiropractic students in my office normally. Sometimes, I'll go for a weekend back to Davenport and lead a seminar for 20 to 30 students. There are probably 200 techniques in the seminar, and all I do is lecture. If you have talent, you have to use it, because that's what it's for.

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Q: Have you seen any problems develop over the years with service programs from the time you started volunteering in 1959?

A: Now, the object of some organizations is to make money instead of trying to give the service. Many people are out in the streets sacrificing their time for fundraisers, but that is beginning to be cut down now. As politics has been getting involved in the last 15 to 20 years, freedoms are being taken away. It's just a different atmosphere. Everything was created to save time, but now it seems we have less time to spend with people who need help.

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Q: Who do you think has provided the best example of service to the public?

A: I think it's Tiger Woods. He was a multimillionaire a long time ago, before he was even a professional, yet he's spent money to help kids learn. He's always had a great amount of responsibility ever since he was young. And like Tiger Woods, I've never looked forward to retiring.


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