For many years, Dr. J. Paul Wingert Jr. played a major role in the Blair County medical community.
Wingert, 85, died Friday at his home in Stuart, Fla., where he moved in 1991 after his retirement from Blair Medical Associates, which he founded in 1972 with cardiologist Dr. Marvin Meisner and family practitioner Dr. Philip Hoovler.
Meisner said Wingert, who was the first board-certified physician in internal medicine in Blair County, wanted to improve medical care in the community.
"It was his dream to recruit as many of the subspecialty people as possible," Meisner said. "When he started, the majority of doctors were family doctors and general practitioners, so people would have to go out of town for subspecialists. Blair Medical Associates was an attempt to simulate what was done at the Cleveland Clinic."
Meisner said Wingert believed that with more subspecialists, it would be easier to recruit good people to this area.
At the time there was resistance to the formation of Blair Medical Associates, which today has more than 50 physicians and has satellite offices in the area.
"Paul Wingert was instrumental in getting people to understand the need for it and to recruit people. It would not have been possible to form Blair Medical Associates without him," Meisner said
Dr. Anthony Maniglia, an internist at Blair Medical Associates, called Wingert a pioneer.
"He was a very good physician, very well respected and old school," Maniglia said. "Because of the work he put in, the medical community is much more respected. He was a very good internist. We are still seeing the effects of what he meant to the medical community and will continue to see it for several years to come."
Meisner said Wingert was a very hard worker.
"They didn't have an internist at Miners [Hospital] so he would get up at 4:30 a.m. and go up there and see 15 to 20 patients there and come back to Altoona Hospital to start his rounds," Meisner said.
A funeral service for Wingert will be held Friday in Stuart, Fla.