JOPLIN, Mo. — A pediatric icon in Southwest Missouri is hanging up his stethoscope. But don’t expect his patients and their parents to forget him anytime soon.

It wasn’t just another day at the office for Joplin pediatrician Dr. Raymond Grote. It was his last day ever, and many of his former patients, their parents, and his co-workers had one last chance to tell him just how much he’s meant to them.

“Dr. Grote is one of a kind. He’s just the best man I know, honestly. Next to my father, the best man I know. He’s good to everybody, he has the best heart, loves children. He’s just such a good man and good person,” said Stacy Gilliam R.N., Longtime Employee

Dr. Grote started his medical career in Texas in 1978 and he’s been practicing here in Joplin for 40 years. So how many kids has he treated in that time? He says about 7,800 in just the last ten years.

“It’s fun to see kids grow up and now I’m seeing a lot of second-generation, even third-generation kids which is really neat,” said Dr. Grote.

“So my two children were with Dr. Grote and he stayed their pediatrician even though they were in college and they would come home and go to Dr. Grote, and then my oldest son, he has had two children and Dr. Grote was the pediatrician for my two grandchildren. And so he has just been a pillar to our family and we just think the world of him and his family,” said Dana Miller, Happy Customer.

Early in his career, a fellow doctor taught him the skill of making animals out of balloons.

“Oh basically it really makes the kids all eager to come see me instead of afraid to come see me like when I was a kid,” Dr. Grote said.

“I feel very sorry for the pediatricians taking care of our children in the future because everybody gets a balloon when they come to Dr. Grote’s, and candy also and stickers. So our patients are pretty spoiled,” said Gilliam.

But that’s not the only young lives he’s impacted in the Four States. He’s led scouting trips all over the country.

“I’ve been to every state but Rhode Island,” Dr. Grote said.