President's Comments

My Family and the American Dream

Lucio N. Margallo II, MD
President, South Dakota State Medical Association

June 6, 2022

The Declaration of Independence proclaims that all men are created equal, endowed with the unalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. And the preamble of the U.S. Constitution secures the blessings of liberty to us and our posterity. My family has thought of these as the American Dream that the Statue of Liberty has beaconed us to aspire to.

The fulfillment of the Dream began on Jan. 3, 1973, when,from Manila, Philippines, we (my 5-month-old daughter Farah, wife Claudette, and myself) arrived in Seattle, Washington, at 0-degree temperature, under blizzard conditions and crystal icy roads. We only had $100 in our pocket and our luggage was filled with cloth diapers, medicines and powdered milk. It was a long 7,778-mile flight from a normal 90-degree Fahrenheit Philippine weather.

Unsure, but I was ready. I had three years of experience in general surgery in rural Philippines, following graduation from medical school in 1970 at the University of Santo Tomas, Manila (the Catholic university, run by the Dominican Order, was founded in 1611, making it older than Harvard and the oldest university in the Far East). Before that, I had had a one-year rotating internship in the countryside, often ministering to the casualties, from both sides, of a long-running armed rebellion. The wheel of fortune has turned faster than our fondest dreams.

The American experience started when I accepted the rare opportunity to serve as medical director of the Redfield State Hospital and School (institution caring for those with mental illnesses) from 1974-1977 under temporary license. After completing three years of residency in internal medicine at the University of South Dakota (USD) in 1980, I have spent the last 40 years as a general internist with Delaney Clinic and Avera Medical Group in Mitchell. Perseverance, struggles and in-betweens, I have also served as clinical assistant professor at USD Sanford School of Medicine, clinical professor at the USD PA program, professor at Dakota Wesleyan University (DWU) Athletic Training and Sports Medicine Program, medical director at Avera Brady Health and Rehab, and the Cardio-Pulmonary Service at the Avera Queen of Peace Hospital. I have been equally proud serving as a team physician for the DWU Tigers and Mitchell Kernels.

My wife, Claudette, is a retired RN, and now is a full-time homemaker. She has served in several medical missions. We happily celebrated our golden wedding anniversary last year, having been blessed with four outstanding children: Farah, a teacher (spouse Nick, also a teacher); Justin, a small-business proprietor; Chris, a Columbia University DPT graduate, (as is his wife Rux) has attended to U.S. Olympians in foreign assignments; and Jonelle, a Broadway actor, and grandkids Kira and Owen.

My Dad (Lucio I), a public defender, judge, and college dean, never had the opportunity to set foot and live in America. Mom (Isabel), a PhD and public school administrator, did; so all but one of their eight children who were already a physician, engineers (three of them), teacher, lawyer, architect and police officer when they came to the land of great promise and furthered the Dream – to become a nuclear engineer, IT associate, published author, building maintenance engineer, architectural project director, pastor, INEOA Medal of Valor recipient, and South Dakota State Medical Association president.

Prior to being SDMA president, I have been humbled on being bestowed these recognitions: 1) Distinguished Service Award (South Dakota State Medical Association, Mitchell School District); 2) Children’s Champions Award (Abbott House); 3) Humanitarian Award (United Iriguenos Inc.); and 4) Hall of Fame Inductee (Dakota Wesleyan University, Mitchell High School Athletic Booster Club).

My parents-in-law, Victoriano (WWII hero and Korean War veteran) and Tita (a church administrator), and all four of their children, all professionals themselves (lab technologist/dietician, mechanical engineer and Vietnam veteran, RN,and doctor of dentistry) have been partakers of the same American Dream. We are honored to be Americans, and, in our humble capacities, we will continue to be of service to this divinely ordained nation that has adopted us.

As the 141st president of SDSMA, I am extremely proud to represent this organization, and I undertake to perform wholeheartedly all the responsibilities appertaining to the office: To promote the art and  science of medicine, protect and improve the health of the public, and advocate for the well-being of patients and the best environment for physicians to advance quality health care –for ourselves and our posterity.

South Dakota State Medical Association
2600 W 49th St Ste 100
Sioux Falls, SD 57105
Phone: 605.336.1965 | Fax: 605.274.3274

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