When 2001 winds down, with its passing will come the end of an era in McCulloch County as Dr. S. Merlin McAnelly, MD, will be closing his practice and entering into retirement. After more than 35 years of caring for the sick and ailing in McCulloch County, Dr. McAnelly has decided to hang up his stethoscope and move on to life as a retiree. “The practice of medicine has been a wonderful and extremely gratifying part of my life,” McAnelly said in a formal letter announcing his retirement. “My patients have allowed me the privilege of realizing my dream of being a family doctor in a country town.” Dr. McAnelly, the area’s most long-standing doctor, had a goal of providing competent health care at a fair price for the people located in and around the Heart of Texas. To many in the area, he has become a long-lasting friend of the family. ‘I started delivering Brady babies over 30 years ago,’ said Dr. McAnelly. ‘I have treated mamas, babies, grandbabies and now great-grandbabies.’ Dr. McAnelly, with his wife, Sue, came to Brady on July 1, 1966, when he joined the Brady Hospital and Clinic as a family practice physician. He had served one year at Breckenridge following a year of internship at John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth. Dr. McAnelly, a native of Lometa, was a pre-med graduate of the University of Texas at Austin and received his medical degree at the Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. He served two years in the U.S. Army’one year at Fort Hood and a year at Fort Gulich in Panama. “We have enjoyed our 35 1/2-year stay in Brady. The people here are great, the salt of the earth,” the doctor told the Standard-Herald Thursday morning. He said both of his children, Stan and Julia, were reared here, went off to college, and “came back to Brady at their own choosing.” Since he began his medical practice here, McAnelly became a rancher. “It’s a diversion, a sideline, that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed.” One of his major contributions to the community has been his involvement in the creation of the Heart of Texas Memorial Hospital in 1974. “After I was here a couple of years, it became a goal of mine to stimulate interest in a facility to replace the old Brady Hospital,” he said. “Fred Wulff and George Carrithers led the movement for the new medical center,” McAnelly said. As for retirement, McAnelly, 65, said he looks forward to continuing his outside interests in ranching.