Pediatrician dedicated to Amish, Mennonites

By Associated Press

BEDFORD, Ind. (AP) — George Sorrells was a mischievous 2-year-old when, way back in 1939, he crawled into a place he shouldn’t have — a fireplace in an old school building. His parents were both school teachers in Shoals and had brought him along, but he’d slipped out of their sight.

Third-degree burns covered the toddler’s legs when he was doused with water and pulled from the fireplace by an Amish woman named Mary. She then helped nurse young George back to good health, staying by his side for six months.

“I’m alive today because of the quick action of a young lady of the Amish faith,” Sorrells said, recounting the incident. “That was my introduction to the Amish.”

Sorrells, now 79 and a pediatrician, has never forgotten the kindness Mary showed him. He’s spent nearly his entire professional life repaying the debt he feels he owes her, the faded scars on his legs a constant reminder.

Ever since Sorrells arrived in Bedford in the mid-1960s, he’s been the doctor the local Amish and Mennonite communities know they can turn to at a moment’s notice.

“Since that time, I have been fortunate enough to care for many men and women throughout southern Indiana and including — I want that in big, bold letters — including those of the Amish and Mennonite faith,” Sorrells said during a recent interview in his Riley Physicians at Indiana University Health pediatrics office in Bedford. 

Sorrells, a bolo-tie-wearing clean-cut man with a flat-top hairstyle that goes from gray to white as it works its way to his ears, is a member of the old guard. The kind of doctor that hands out his cellphone number so he can schedule early morning appointments in the middle of the night. He’s told so many patients to use his home landline number that his wife, Barbara, has asked to set some quiet hours in the morning.