Joseph Charles Maheras, M.D., age 76, died Friday, January 10, 2014, after a brief, intense struggle with cancer. He leaves us as a beloved and respected husband, father, brother, uncle, friend, physician and colleague.
Joe was born June 14, 1937, to Celia Argenta Miles Maheras and Peter John Maheras in Idaho Falls, Idaho. He was raised on the family farm along with five siblings, and it was here that his passion for the earth and growing things was nurtured. Over the years, gardening provided continuing enjoyment, and he took great pleasure in sharing the bounty of his plot.
Intellectual curiosity and the pursuit of understanding were driving forces in his life. He graduated from Idaho Falls High School in 1955 and received a B.S. degree from the University of Chicago. He pursued further studies in chemistry at the University of Oregon and Idaho State University, where he received his Master's in Chemistry. Taking a new direction, he entered medical school at the University of South Dakota in 1963. It was here that he met his love and life partner, Mary Gugin. Together they received their B.S. in Medicine and entered the University of Washington Medical School, receiving their Doctor of Medicine Degrees in 1967. They were married on August 20, 1966, and continued their medical training together. Internship and Residency in Internal Medicine took them to Hennepin County General Hospital in Minneapolis.
Joe's residency was interrupted by the Vietnam conflict and he was called to serve in the Medical Corps at Fort Richardson, Alaska. He was the brigade surgeon for the 172 Infantry Brigade. Major Maheras was discharged in 1972 and returned to Hennepin County to complete the residency program. A highlight of his Alaska service was providing medical services to the outlying villages.
While serving in Alaska, he took on the role of father with the arrival of Andrew and Amy. Son Toby joined the family as he resumed his training at Hennepin. The family moved to Billings in 1975, and Joe started his practice with the Billings West Medical Center and began an active 36-year career in the practice of medicine.
As his sons reached Scouting age, Joe became very active in the Boy Scouts of America. He served in numerous leadership capacities and received the District Award of Merit, the Silver Beaver Award and the God and Service Award. He is a member of the Order of the Arrow.
Music was always a part of Joe's being. He learned to play the accordion and clarinet and later the concertina. Family trips always included singing accompanied by the concertina. He sang for over 30 years in the chancel choir of Grace United Methodist Church and recently joined the Big Sky Chorus.
From the bottom of the Grand Canyon to the heights of the Beartooths and the Scottish Highlands, Joe enjoyed hiking, canoeing, camping, skiing, fishing and hunting with family and friends for many years. Since an initial retirement in 2005, he was building a cedar strip canoe. Before his death, he was able to see it finished; family will launch this work of love as warm weather returns.
Dr. Maheras was dedicated to his patients and his practice. He was board certified in Internal Medicine and served in various capacities at both St. Vincent Healthcare and the former Deaconess Hospital. His practice led him from Billings West to the Broadwater Clinic to temporary retirement in 2005. Retirement was short-lived, and he worked until 2013 assisting at the Sleep Center at St. Vincent Healthcare. He was very humbled and honored when he was elected as a Fellow of the American College of Physicians in 2008.
Dr. Maheras is survived by his wife, Mary; son, Andrew; daughter, Amy, and son-in-law Pablo; son, Toby, and daughter-in-law Courtney; grandsons, Mason, Pablo and Carlos; sisters, Elaine, Ruth and Joy; and brother, Ted.
He was preceded in death by his parents and his brother, John.
Dr. Maheras was, and will continue to be, a gift to his family, friends and profession. As he was described in his high school year book, "He gives much and knows not that he gives at all." Truly we have been blessed.
Cremation has taken place and Memorial Services will be held in Billings on Thursday, January 16. Remembrances may be shared at www .michelottisawyers.com.