For 31 years Dr. Dillswar Sahoo has served the people of the Panther Valley and surrounding areas from his Coaldale office.
Yesterday, he hung his stethoscope for the last time, officially retiring.
Dr. Sahoo was known for his warm personality.
Taking over his practice will be a physician who also has a reputation of being very compassionate, Dr. Elizabeth Perelli of Summit Hill.
Yesterday, a reception was held for Dr. Sahoo at his office, located at 48 W. Phillip St. Dr. Perelli also was in attendance to introduce herself to his patients.
Literally scores of people attended the event and heaped praise on Dr. Sahoo for his dedicated service.
Those visitors told stories how Dr. Sahoo was always there for them; always willing to listen and never hasty. Some noted they have been patients of his since he arrived in Coaldale more than three decades ago.
Also present was John Haney, Chief Operating Officer of the St. Luke's Physicians Group.
"I've been in Coaldale 31 years and three months," he laughed.
It's a strange tale of events that originally brought him to Coaldale.
A native of New Jersey, he has a relative who was a doctor in Reading. The Reading doctor mentioned "Tamaqua" and Dr. Sahoo was interested in the town simply because of the name.
"When I came to see Coaldale, I loved the mountains," he said, resulting in him staying in the community.
Dr. Sahoo has been a physician since 1971.
Asked how he'll spend his retirement, he responded, "Probably travel a little. See my children and grandchildren. Read history, which is the love of my life. Read Sanskrit." Sanskrit is a historical language in India.
Dr. Sahoo and his wife Sukanti have four children and two grandchildren. Of the children, one is a doctor, one is a nurse, one is a scientist doing research for heart stents, and one is a financier.
"I will miss the people," he said. "They have been part of my life for 31 years. We're a family together."
Dr. Perelli said it's an honor for her to be coming into such an established and reputable practice.
She is a 1990 graduate of Marian Catholic High School, of Moravian College, and of Jefferson Medical School. She did her residency at the Reading Hospital.
For the past six years, she has worked as a physician at the St. Luke's Miners Urgent Care Center in Jim Thorpe.
Prior to that, she had operated an individual practice for five years in Summit Hill.
She is the daughter of Rose Perelli of Summit Hill and has a son, Gabe, age 3 1/2.
Her sister, Gretchen Perelli, is an endocrinologist in the Lehigh Valley.