Dr. Walter Flores was born in Sucre, Bolivia on February 9th, 1933 to Constantino Flores (an industrialist from Spain) and Pastora Flores (nee Duran). He passed away January 30th, 2021 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Walter grew up in Sucre, Bolivia along with his older brother Mario and sister Alberta. Walter earned his medical doctorate (M.D.) at San Francisco Xavier University Medical School in 1960. In 1961 he was hired as the general thoracic surgeon at the St. Barbara General Hospital in Sucre, Bolivia and served as the general surgeon at the San Francisco Xavier Clinic in Sucre, Bolivia. From 1961 through 1962 he worked as a physician and surgeon for the Argentinean-Bolivian Railroad Company and the Bolivian Mines Corporation in Potosi, Bolivia. He spent his spare time as a young doctor engaging in his favorite pastimes, hunting and fishing the Amazon jungle.
In 1962 Walter immigrated to the United States and worked at the New Mexico Indian Health Clinic (now Albuquerque Indian Health Center) as a medical assistant. In order to master the English language and gain an American medical degree, he accepted a third-year position at Kirksville College of Osteopathy in Kirksville, Missouri in 1964. He received his Doctor of Osteopathy (D.O.) in 1966. He completed his residency in general surgery at the Wetzel Osteopathic Hospital in Clinton, Missouri in 1967 and moved to Texas and accepted a position as the house physician at the White Settlement Hospital (now Scott & White Hospital) in Fort Worth. He subsequently moved to South Dakota where he was the general surgeon on staff at Herreid Hospital in Herreid, South Dakota.
Shortly thereafter in 1969 he answered a job opening for a physician and surgeon in the tiny town of Tatum, New Mexico (a booming oilfield town). The Tatum City Council agreed to lease him their clinic for One Dollar ($1.00) a year if he’d come practice and become the town’s physician. He took up their offer and moved his family to a warmer climate finally settling in Southeastern, New Mexico where he met the love of his life, Kathleen May Ennis who would become his wife and stepmother to his children.
From 1969 to 1972 Dr. Flores was also a staff member at the Lea County Medical Hospital (now NorLea Medical Center) in Lovington, New Mexico. In 1974, he established Flores Clinic at 828 West Jackson Ave. in Lovington where he practiced medicine, treated many ailments, set broken bones and even delivered two babies into this world. He made many a house call to families all over Lea County and Flores Clinic was the original “Minute Clinic”. You didn’t need an appointment to see the doctor, you just had to show up. Sometimes you’d be able to see him immediately or have to wait five minutes, but you could always see Dr. Flores on your time and he’d always wait until the last patient left before he came home. His no appointments philosophy worked so well he’d sometimes say, “these new family medical clinics are copying me”.
He believed strongly in serving his community and did so up until December 2019. In 1976 Walter took the oath as a U.S. citizen before a federal magistrate in Roswell, New Mexico. Becoming a U.S. citizen was a true highlight for him.
In 1992 Dr. Flores was nominated to the New Mexico Medical Review Commission. The Commission is a six-member panel, three physicians and three attorneys, tasked with reviewing alleged medical malpractice suits brought before the panel. He was still listed as an active member at the time of his passing. Dr. Flores practiced medicine for 56 years and loved every minute of it. He outlasted everyone as the sole private practitioner there in Lovington.
Throughout his life, Walter enjoyed hunting, traveling, listening to and making music. He loved old movies and all the great actors; Tony Curtis, Cary Grant, Bing Crosby and Mario Moreno (aka Cantinflas) to name a few. He never stopped learning up until his death, reading a book a week and watching National Geographic shows. Walter was a devout lifelong Catholic and was a Franciscan of the Third Order. He attended mass regularly at St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church in Lovington up until his move to Edmond, Oklahoma in April 2020 and he quickly became a regular at Christ The King Catholic Church’s Mass on Sunday mornings.
Dr. Walter Flores is preceded in death by his siblings, his wife and love of many years, Kathleen, and his daughter, Dr. Cathilia Maria Flores-Vessel. He is survived by his daughter Patsy Breeding and her husband James Byham and granddaughter Michelle Woodman; son Mikel and his wife Karen, and grandchildren Hannah, Catie and Zachary; son Andrew and his wife Mendy, and granddaughter Evelyn.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Dr. Walter Flores’ honor to St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church, 1301 N. 9th Street, Lovington, NM 88260.