December 04, 2023

Retiring Jasper County medical examiner recognized for ‘invaluable’ service

Dr. Phil Clevenger dedicated 13 years to the job, which will be carried on by Dr. Pat Edwards

Dr. Phil Clevenger poses for a picture holding a plaque he received from Jasper County Sheriff John Halferty honoring him for his service as the county's longtime medical examiner.

For his many years of service to Jasper County, the outgoing medical examiner Dr. Phil Clevenger received a surprise plaque from sheriff John Halferty at the Nov. 7 supervisors meeting while surrounded by colleagues and the many people who worked beside him in one of the more under-appreciated roles in the county.

Halferty said Clevenger is retiring after being appointed the county’s medical examiner in March 2010. The doctor requested Dr. Pat Edwards be appointed as the new medical examiner for Jasper County. Dr. Steve Hill and Dr. Sarah Florence have agreed to be appointed as deputy medical examiners.

In addition, retired sheriff Mike Balmer, sheriff John Halferty, chief deputy Duane Rozendaal, Newton Fire Marshal Jacob Halferty and Lt. Mike Gunsaulus of the Jasper County Sheriff’s Office were requested to be appointed as medical examiner investigators by Clevenger. Supervisors approved the appointments.

“We usually do 50 to 55 cases a year,” Halferty said at the Nov. 7 meeting. “Duane and I checked this morning, we’re at about 65, so we’re up a little bit. But it’s nice having an extra person on call just with our other responsibilities, sometimes they have to go through the call list two or three times.”

Present at the meeting were most of the medical examiner investigators and representatives from some of the local funeral homes.

“We just wanted to thank him for his service,” Halferty said. “On a side note, some of you don’t know, every EMS service has to have a medical director, which is a doctor that oversees their service. We essentially, Colfax and Mingo, would operate under that doctor’s license when we’re providing EMS care.”

Clevenger has served as medical director for Colfax and Mingo “for at least as long as I’ve been around,” Halferty added. When asked, Clevenger estimated it was likely 10 to 12 years. Another doctor will take over that position as well. Halferty said Clevenger’s service is “invaluable” to Jasper County.

“We wanted to recognize him, so we got him a plaque,” Halferty said. “I will bring it to you, Dr. Clevenger. Or ‘Doc’ as we call him. It says: ‘Jasper County Medical Examiner Dr. Philip Clevenger, DO. 2010-2023.’ Then we put a quote from Albert Einstein: ‘Only a life worth lived for others is a life worthwhile.’”

Clevenger received a round of applause for his service before complimenting his successor and crediting the investigators for helping make his job easy.

“I’m fortunate to have Dr. Edwards, who has been an associate of mine for almost 30 years,” Clevenger said of the newly appointed county medical examiner. “And he’s been active as deputy medical examiner and he agreed to take over, so I’m very appreciative of that. He’ll do a great job.”

As part of the medical examiner duties, Clevenger had to sign off on every cremation in Jasper County. The retiring doctor estimates he has signed more than 3,000 cremations. He also commended the local funeral homes, most of which he said are very good to work with.

“I was happy to do it for 13 years,” Clevenger said. “It’s my time to turn this over to someone else. It has been a great experience. So thank you.”

Christopher Braunschweig

Christopher Braunschweig

Christopher Braunschweig has a strong passion for community journalism and covers city council, school board, politics and general news in Newton, Iowa and Jasper County.