comments

Urologist Bill Kirby retires from Auburn practice after 33 years

By: Gloria Young,
-A +A

Dr. Bill Kirby in the community
Chief of the medical staff at Sutter Auburn Faith Hospital from 2002-2004
First chairman of the Institutional Review Committee at Nevada Memorial Hospital from 2006 to 2008
Chairman of the Department of Surgery at Roseville Community Hospital from 1986-1987
Chairman of the pharmacy committee at Roseville Community Hospital from 1983-1985
Member of Roseville Community Hospital Foundation board for 10 years and a member of Auburn Faith Community Hospital board for five years.
Currently serving second term on Auburn City Council, and was mayor in 2011
Member of Auburn Rotary Club and a multiple Paul Harris fellow
Was an elected director of the Auburn Recreation District and served as chairman from 2003-2004
President of Auburn Little League for four years and served on board of directors for 10 years
Physician for the Placer High School athletic department for 33 years
Physician on the Western States 100 mile Endurance Run for 17 years, earning a Friend of the Trail award in 1990
Recipient of the Healthcare Award in 2010 at the Auburn State of the Community dinner

 

As Auburn’s Dr. William (Bill) Kirby clears out his office after 33 years in his urology practice, he’s taking with him a lot of fond memories.

“I’m not going to slow down. I love this place,” he said. “It is an impossible community to describe to anyone. It is so giving.”

Kirby is retiring — reluctantly — due to back surgery complications.

“My home phone number has always been in the book for my patients,” he said. “My grandfather practiced medicine until he died. And I sort of felt I would be able to see patients forever. I’ve walked into this office for 30 years every day including weekends — even when I wasn’t seeing patients, to do paperwork. It has been very sudden and I still haven’t digested it at all.”

When he decided to become a doctor, it was more for practical reasons than a calling — “I looked around and decided I wanted a job where I could make decent money and live anywhere I wanted, and we had a lot of doctors in the family” — but he soon discovered it was a natural fit.

“I absolutely love what I do,” he said. “I didn’t know I’d be good at it — that’s a blessing and a gift. I love direct patient care but I didn’t know that at the time.”

Memorabilia and photos on the walls of his office tell the story of some of the remarkable people he’s provided care to over the years.  

“I had so many wonderful people in my office,” he said. “One guy, who was Tom Dwelle’s mechanic, parachuted into (France) on D-Day. There was another guy who sunk the biggest battleship ever built. I could talk to people and their lives were more important than the medicine somehow. It makes healing better when you know the lives of your patients. When you show that kind of interest in people, their health improves. …”

“One of my patients came in with a PBY (World War II aircraft) cap on. I asked him about it and he started talking about it and about how he flew (Admiral Chester) Nimitz to Japan to sign the surrender papers.”

Kirby has been board certified in adult and pediatric urology since 1984 and has had a leading role in the medical community for many years.

As he steps down, he has worries for those without means or medical coverage.

“I’ve been the only person in my practice for five counties who will see a Medi-Cal or indigent patient,” he said. “One of my biggest concerns is how that patient population will be managed.”

Kirby’s retirement won’t impact his extensive involvement in the community. That includes being a physician for Placer High’s athletic department — something he’s done for the past 33 years.

“I still intend to do volunteer work,” he said. … “I’m on City Council and very proud to be involved in Rotary. I’m on the Auburn Cancer Endowment Fund — Auburn is the only community in the world that endows a chair in cancer research. (It exists) because of Virgil Traynor and people like him who started it. I’m involved in the community garden.”

Kirby and Linda Robinson, president of the Old Town Business Association and owner of Sun River Clothing Co. in Old Town, started Auburn movie night in Old Town and Downtown.

It’s hard to pick a favorite because “I love all of it,” he said about his many activities in the community. But one that stands out because of its scope and impact is Project Auburn.

For Kirby, lending a hand wherever it is needed is part of his family heritage.

“I was raised in a family of five boys,” he said. “My parents were president of Little League and the swim team we were on. They were at every game and every activity. The tragedy for me at Little League (in Auburn) was to see a kid get a hit or do something great and there not be anyone there (from his family) to see it.”

He is also very close to his family. He’s very proud of his daughter, Sarah Kirby-Gonzales, who recently won a landslide victory for a school board seat in West Sacramento, his son-in law, who is a police officer in Folsom, his son, James, who attends law school in the Bay Area, and his 18-month-old granddaughter.

In the medical community, Kirby stands out for his dedication as well as his commitment to community service.

“Dr. Kirby has served as a member of the Sutter Auburn Faith Hospital medical staff for 33 years, joining the staff in 1980. He has also served as chief of staff and has been instrumental in the growth of the Auburn medical community,” Sutter Auburn Faith Hospital CEO Mitch Hanna said in an email. “In addition to his many years of service within the medical community, Dr. Kirby has served in many volunteer capacities within the community, including membership in the Auburn Rotary Club, his years of service coaching various sports teams, as well as his position as an Auburn city council member and past mayor of Auburn. He also continues to serve in a volunteer capacity as the team doctor for Hillmen football. As a member of the medical staff, Bill was never afraid to speak his mind, whether his opinions were shared by others or not, and I found his candor to be refreshing and enlightening. He could be controversial at times, but never mean-spirited, and regardless of the message, I always felt that his heart was in the right spot. He epitomizes community mindedness, and I know that any additional free time he may gain by the closure of his medical practice will rapidly be absorbed serving our community in other capacities.”

 Kirby is referring his patients in the Auburn-Grass Valley area to Auburn physician Dr. Matt Janiga.

“He is technically excellent. His judgment is very good,” Kirby said. “He is very personable and a huge asset to the community. I’m very comfortable leaving patients in his hands. … This is a phenomenal community with very, very good physicians. For my patients who need some assurance, I really hope that Matt Janiga stays in Auburn. He is an asset to the community and I want to have someone I can refer my patients to and feel comfortable about. I’m really happy about him being here and what he brings to the community. I think he maintains a quality that I want to see here in urology.”“

He’s referring his Roseville patients to Sutter Urology in Roseville and Dr. David Couillard in Rocklin, and has high regard for those as well.