Dr. William Dennis Dannacher, 95, died on Feb. 12, 2014 at his home. He was born Jan. 21, 1919, in Indianapolis to Dennis H. and Mae (Withers) Dannacher. Dr. Dannacher was a 1936 graduate of Wabash High School. He attended Indiana University and received scholarships for swimming and wrestling, winning I.U. letters in both sports. His wrestling team became Big Ten Champions and Midwest A.A.W. Champions for two years running. He was also an active member of the Sigma Pi Fraternity.
Dr. Dannacher earned his M.D. degree from Indiana University School of Medicine in 1942. Graduating in the upper 10 percent of his class, he was elected membership in the prestigious Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society. In 1942, Dr. Dannacher was commissioned into the U.S. Navy where he performed a one year rotating internship, and then served two years in the amphibious force as Lt.MC, with duty in the Mediterranean Sea and the English Channel. Dr. Dannacher was Chief Medical Officer on LST transport ships, with numerous combat missions that included the “D” Day landings on Normandy Beach. Returning to the U.S., he had two years of approved residency in General Surgery at the 3,000 bed Naval Hospital in Portsmouth, VA. At that time, Dr. Dannacher married his former wife Emily Marteen Dannacher who was a Navy WAVE. They went on to raise five children.
After separation from the Navy, Dr. Dannacher returned to Wabash to start a private practice in general surgery. In 1950, he organized the area’s first group practice by founding the Wabash Clinic. He was instrumental in building the Wabash County Hospital from a small out-dated building to a 130 bed hospital with modern facilities. During his more than 37 years as a General Surgeon, Dr. Dannacher performed more than 25,000 scheduled surgical operations, along with several thousand emergency cases. In 1967, Dr. Dannacher became a Diplomat of the American Board of Abdominal Surgeons, and a Fellow of the International College of Surgeons, serving as president of the ICS’s Indiana Chapter. His numerous professional memberships included the American Medical Association, the District Medical Society, the Indiana State Medical Society, and he alternated as Chief of Surgery at the Wabash County Hospital.
Dr. Dannacher was an active pilot for more than thirty years with multi-engine and instrument ratings. He was a member and president of the Indiana chapter of the Flying Physicians, and a Designated Federal Aviation Medical Examiner. After retirement from general surgery in 1989, he was commissioned a Major in the U.S. Air Force Auxiliary when he joined the Civil Air Patrol Wing in Southwest Florida. In 1992, he married Lynn (Wormuth) Dannacher, Peru. He served as the Wabash County Health Officer for ten years, and worked as a consultant in medical-legal cases throughout his retirement years.
In 2005, Dr. Dannacher was honored with the Distinguished Hoosier Award, bestowed by Gov. Mitchell Daniels. He also received a proclamation from Wabash’s Mayor Bob Vanlandingham for Outstanding Citizenship and service to his community.
Dr. Dannacher’s activities included his love of boating, skiing, pocket billiards, video photography, and computer science. He was an avid music enthusiast and played the organ, piano and guitar. He enjoyed a life-long passion for golf, and was a charter member of the Wabash County Club.
Dr. Dannacher was preceded in death by his daughter Lynn Dannacher, and sister Mae Williams. He is survived by his wife Lynn Dannacher, Wabash. Also surviving are his sons Dennis H (Marta) Dannacher, Gregory R Dannacher, and William K (Joan) Dannacher; his daughter Emily Sue Dannacher; his five granddaughters: Dr. Melissa Dannacher, Stefania Dannacher, Amy Dannacher, Molly Dannacher, and Hannah Radeke; and his grandson William T Dannacher.
Dr. Dannacher was a strong and loving husband, father, grandfather, friend, and dedicated surgeon, who enriched the lives of all who knew him. Preferred memorials are to the Wabash County Historical Museum. Arrangements handled by Grandstaff-Hentgen Funeral Service, Wabash.