Dr. George "Skip" Seese was more than a doctor, say his friends and patients.
He was a father, a fisherman, a Steelers fan and much more.
If you called him a doctor, George Seese would remind you that he might be one, but his name was Skip and he was your friend, his best friend Dr. Wayne Gross said.
Seese went fishing with his patients, shared a meal with them and made house calls to visit his "friends" when he wasn't on call, Gross said.
On Monday, Seese's life ended when Michael Wood shot him at close range in the parking lot of Affinity Medical Center, according to police. Investigators believe the two men had the same love interest.
Seese, a cardiologist at Stark Medical Specialties in Perry Township, also practiced at a handful of hospitals, including Affinity, Aultman Hospital in Canton, Union Hospital in Dover and Aultman-Orrville Hospital.
"He cared about his patients," colleague Dr. Anthony Perry said. "There was no question about that."
Gross met Seese while doing cardiology training in New Jersey in 1990.
"I helped him move his six kids into the house in New Jersey," Gross said. "Basically, we are the best friends that kept things together."
After completing his training in 1993, Seese convinced Gross to come to Ohio to join his practice.
Gross said their families are close and they would vacation together. He and Seese would golf and hang out.
Perry and his colleagues remain in shock. But, he said, his friend Skip would tell them to stop crying and get back to work — that they had patients to care for.
"Patient care was very important to him," said Perry, who has been a partner at Stark Medical Specialties since 1999.
Just starting his medical training, Perry met Seese at the former Doctors Hospital. As a resident, Seese served as one of Perry's trainers before he left to do his cardiology fellowship.
Seese, he said, was a great mentor. Perry tried to model Seese's bedside manner.
"He talked to people just like they were friends," Perry said. "He could have a normal conversation with them. He would joke (with patients), 'I'll get your heart fixed even though you are a Browns fan,' but he got down to business when something needed to be done."
Gross said his friend had a rare quality. He didn't play into the power play doctor/patient relationship.
"It was all about friendship," he said. "This is a rare quality. They would wait hours in the waiting room for him. They were dedicated to him. He treated them like friends. He knew their names, he had a great memory and knew about the patient's kids, family. He had a very loving relationship with his patients."
Seese was an avid fisherman, making trips to Canada.
The 59-year-old also was a proud father and grandfather. He was the father of 13 that included biological children, step-children and two children he and his wife adopted from Russia, Perry said.
According to court records, Seese and his wife, Denise Kelly Seese, were in the process of divorcing.
Some of Seese's children, family members and friends gathered at Seese's home just outside of Dalton the day after Seese's murder. Family members declined to comment and requested privacy.
Bob Ramsay thought he was in top shape until a medical screening said otherwise. Ramsay discovered he had a tumor on one of his heart valves and sought the help of Seese, who served as the team doctor for the Dalton Bulldogs.
For nearly 30 years, Ramsay coached Dalton's football team and would see Seese standing on the sidelines Friday nights.
Because of their relationship through the football program, Ramsay decided to schedule an appointment with Seese after the screening.
Ramsay had no idea he had any health issues and credits Seese for saving his life. Ramsay's tumor was the size of a thumb. After undergoing other tests, Seese found blockage in Ramsay's arteries that required emergency surgery.
"He had a big role in making sure I'm here today," Ramsay said. "I didn't have any symptoms. I had never had a heart attack or anything like that."
Dalton Local Schools Athletic Director John Gregory could always count on Seese. He served as team doctor for the Dalton Bulldogs 12 to 13 years before handing over the reins to Dr. Brett Buller a few years ago.
"If needed, we could still call him at any time. I still included him as a team doctor. If we need a specialist, I knew he was just a phone call away,"
The doctor stood on the sidelines for all the football games during his tenure and would arrange and perform end-of-the-school-year physicals for any student-athletes. He and his nursing staff and interns would donate their services.
"Even if a kid needed a physical, they would sometimes call him up and he'd tell them to come to the house to do a physical," the athletic director said. "It was great for our student-athletes. You can't get that everywhere."
Seese would also see athletes with heart issues, bring his echocardiogram machine to the school to perform EKGs or take them to his office at no charge.
"It was just a great service he provided for all the athletes at the school," Gregory said. "His kids went through the athletic program at Dalton and he was always willing to help."
More than a doctor
Elizabeth Fleming said Seese started out as a doctor but became a family friend.
Fleming became acquainted with the cardiologist by accompanying her grandfather, Bob Keating, to Seese's former Orrville office.
With a career in the carnival business, it wasn't easy for Keating to make and keep local appointments, but Seese was always accommodating, Fleming said.
She said Seese wrote a poem, which he read at her grandfather's funeral in 2004.
The family continued to maintain a relationship with Seese, with whom they consulted in 2015 when faced with the decision to remove her grandmother, Kitty Keating, from life support following a fall.
While she was not, at the time, Seese's patient, Fleming said the cardiologist went above and beyond to speak with the medical providers involved to help advise the family.
Following her death and at the request of Fleming, Seese wrote another tribute.
"He was so much more than a doctor," said Fleming, who described Seese as being laid back, easy going, a jokester, a family man and a man who loved the outdoors.
News of Seese's death left Fleming with a sense of "total devastation."
"He was just a good guy. It just really sucks. Nobody's perfect, but nobody deserves that," Fleming said.
A great loss
As the news of Seese's death became public, people turned to social media.
Many recalled Seese's skills as a cardiologist while others sent prayers to his family.
"He was an amazing doctor that saved my husband's life just this past January," a woman wrote on Facebook. "Every time I hear my husband's heart beating strong he will be remembered."
There were many stories about Seese's care for his patients from others who had worked with him throughout the years.
Others showed compassion for Wood's family, pointing out that they didn't ask for this tragedy and they are suffering as well.
Independent reporter Samantha Ickes and The Daily Record reporters Christy Pratt and Emily Morgan contributed to this story.
Reach Amy at 330-775-1135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Twitter: @aknappINDE