Dr. John H. Dahl – A Lifetime of Selfless Service

Dr. John H. Dahl

It was an honor to sit in the living room of Dr. John (Jack) H. Dahl’s Wheat Ridge home, which he had built in 1966, and listen to some of his life stories. Dr. Dahl has spent more than nine decades on this earth and will undoubtedly be remembered for his dedication to service and a lifetime of giving back.  

Raised in Duluth, Minnesota, Dahl’s journey to becoming a doctor began in fifth grade. He participated in a first-aid course and performed so well that the instructors told him he should be a doctor. This early recognition of his potential planted a seed. He responded, “I will,” and he did! This determination and self-belief would become the driving forces behind his successful medical career and his lifelong commitment to service.  

In 1950, as Dahl was beginning college, the Korean War erupted, and he made a selfless commitment, agreeing to join the military upon completing medical school. True to his word, after graduating from the University of Minnesota Medical School in 1956, he entered

the Air Force and interned at Tripler Army Medical Center in Honolulu. Serving as a flight surgeon provided Dahl with strong mentorship, and a stint at Lowry Air Force Base brought him to Colorado. While he left the military in 1959, he never left Colorado, choosing to set down roots here.  

Dahl opened a family medicine practice near 26th and Kipling, joining the medical staff at Lutheran, St. Anthony’s, and Children’s Hospitals in 1961. He dedicated 40 years at all three facilities until his retirement at the start of the 21st century. He fondly recounts his career as the “golden years of medicine,” in which family physicians practiced like in a rural town, performing everything from surgical procedures to delivering babies and rounding daily on patients admitted to the hospital.  

In addition to contributions throughout his medical career, including serving on several hospital committees, Dahl was also a devoted family man and active community member. He and his first wife of forty years, Marilyn, had three children. two sons and a daughter, who all graduated from Wheat Ridge High School. Two of three of his children and three of his four grandchildren were born at Lutheran. Living to serve others runs in the family, with Dahl and his sons being Eagle Scouts, his daughter a nurse, and all of them doing everything they can to help others.  

Dr. Dahl enjoyed serving on many Boards of Directors, often volunteering with organizations for a decade or more. He was an originator of the Jefferson County Y.M.C.A., served on the Board for 30 years, and was elected to the Metro Hall of Fame for his service.

Dahl also served on the Board for Uplift International, an organization a physician friend founded. He dedicated 25 years of leadership to the organization and took part in ten medical missions to the Philippines to fix cleft palates, five of which his daughter joined. Dahl has been a Rotarian for 20 years, served on the Jefferson County Schools Foundation for 15 years, been a Rolling Hills Country Club member for 56 years, was on the Board for what once was the Applewood Bank (now Wells Fargo), and has volunteered for many other local organizations. 

Following his retirement, Dahl founded the Retired Old Docs Eating Out, or R.O.D.E.O., which gathers retired physicians for lunch. He keeps former colleagues apprised of community happenings and organizes speakers and presentations for the group, including updates on the new Lutheran Hospital.  

When discussing why he donates to the Lutheran Foundation, Dahl expresses pride in being one of the founders of Collier Hospice at Lutheran, helping raise money and contributing to the cause. Dahl is a significant supporter of Lutheran Hospice. Both of his wives were cared for there. He is excited about the replacement Lutheran and supports the hospital Foundation in ensuring the Lutheran spirit and excellence of care continue in the new facility.  

When asked for his life motto, Dr. Dahl chuckles and says, “I have always followed the 6 Ps – Proper Preparation Prevents Piss-Poor Performance.” Hospital staff have diligently been preparing for our big move on Aug. 3, and we look forward to providing care to the community – always striving to perform at the highest quality. Lutheran caregivers sincerely thank Dr. Dahl for choosing this hospital and community to spend his time in and dedicating a lifetime of selfless service at every step.  

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