Jefferson Award finalist: Dr. Mike Comly

Dr. Mike Comly, retired from private practice, now spends his days volunteering at the Downtown Clinic in Laramie.
Published: May. 22, 2023 at 12:54 PM CDT|Updated: May. 22, 2023 at 12:55 PM CDT
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LARAMIE, Wyo. (Wyoming News Now) - In 1972, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis... Along with a U.S. senator and an entrepreneur... Founded the Jefferson Awards for public service. The goal was to establish a prize for public and community service... On both the local and national level. Local winners are ordinary people who do extraordinary things.

Over the past several months, you our viewers could nominate someone you felt was deserving of a Jefferson Award. We have narrowed down those submissions to four finalists.

I visited the clinic to meet the first finalist; a doctor in Laramie who is making a difference, one patient at a time.

Dr. Mike Comly, retired from private practice, now spends his days volunteering at the Downtown Clinic in Laramie. He admits it was not his original intention though. It was an unknowing promise he made to Dr. Dan Cline, just before Cline passed away. “When he was getting ready to depart us, he said, “Mike, I want you to do me a favor.” I said, “Sure, what would you like?” He says, “I want you to take over my spot at hospice and the Downtown Clinic.” Comly let out a bit of a surprised sigh as recounting this memory. He was thinking Cline’s request was going to be a little more minor. “Any way,” Comly says, “that’s been 20 years ago, and I’ve been here ever since.”

Clinic Director Pete Gosar explains what makes Dr. Comly so special. “The way he interacts with people. (As) I said in my (nomination) letter. You know, he’s known for his singing entrance, right? And they might be a little dated. Stuff from Gunsmoke or whatever. And many of the folks don’t know what the heck he’s singing about. But I think he just sets a tone. That “Hey, we’re going to have a (good) time here. And I’m going to be really committed to you. And I’LL listen.’”

When asked about his singing entrances, Comly laughs, pointing out that singing well isn’t one of his gifts. “You know, it kind of helps break the ice, you know, a little bit. There’s a time in medicine to be very serious. And there’s a time in medicine you can just lighten a little bit. And I think that takes off some of the stress.”

Many of the patients who come to the clinic are tight on money or don’t have insurance. But Comly says he treats clinic patients just like the ones from his old practice. “I treat everybody just the same. You know, it doesn’t make any difference if you have insurance (or) don’t have insurance. No big deal. In here, it’s very nice. But they all get treated exactly the same.”

Gosar adds, “I think that’s really the strength of mike. His commitment and willingness to listen. And he’s just got a big heart.”

As for how much longer this retiree will keep volunteering at the clinic and the local hospice? “I keep telling them I’m going to quit here but they won’t let me! (Laughs). I guess I’m the only retired one (here). So... What else am I going to do? My wife would just as soon keep me out of the house. (Laughs)”

To which I asked, “So you going to keep going until you can’t, huh?”

“Until I can’t, right. Until I can’t,” Comly responded.

We will announce the winner of Wyoming’s Jefferson Award first at a banquet for the finalists, then here on our newscast.

The national ceremony for the Jefferson Awards takes place in Washington, DC.