Dr. Earnest C. Pretz, 93, died Thursday, Jan. 8, 2009. Graveside services will be in Houston’s National Cemetery at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 14. Local arrangements were by Claybar Funeral Home.
Dr. Pretz was born on March 29, 1915, in Rowden, son of Elmer C. and Annie Laura (Currie) Pretz. He grew up in Baird , TX and graduated as valedictorian from Baird High School in 1933. After graduation, he worked various jobs in Abilene until he enlisted in the Navy in 1934. He served as a corpsman in Samoa so he could enter the Navy ROTC program at the University of Texas in Austin in 1939. Upon being commissioned as a lieutenant in 1942, he served in both the Atlantic and Pacific theaters in World War II. In August 1942, he came to Orange to the former Levingston Ship Yard to commission a destroyer being launched. Later in his naval career he served as the Executive Officer of the USS Stansbury. He graduated from University of Texas in Austin with a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts August, 1947. He then attended medical school at UTMB Galveston and graduated in 1950. While attending medical school, he worked part-time at a refinery in Texas City and performed emergency medical triage during the horrific Texas City Chemical Explosion in 1949. He completed his medical residency at Parkland Hospital in Dallas. There he met his former wife, Astrid Balodis Pretz. He moved to Orange in 1951 and started his family practice on 2nd Street . He also worked at DuPont part-time as a plant physician. He had a secondary practice in Buna for several years and practiced at the former Frances Ann Lutcher Hospital and the old Orange City Hospital. Dr. Pretz served as the first chief of staff at Orange Memorial Hospital in 1957. In 1964, he signed a service contract with RCA and excepted a position as a Physician at a distant early missile warning radar instillation at a Air Force facility in remote Clear, Alaska. He transferred to Elmendorff Air Force Base in Anchorage in 1965 and worked as a base physician until he joined a private practice group. Dr. Pretz returned to Orange in 1967 and shortly thereafter accepted a position at the Veterans Administration in Houston. In 1971, he returned to Orange to resume his private practice on Park Avenue and later moved into the Sholars Drug building where he maintained his practice until he closed his office in 1990 at the age of 75. He did local tenums for several years including Dr. Harvey Randolph in Mid-County during his call to service during Desert Storm in Iraq, Dr. Lance Craig in Bridge City, Vidor Family Clinic, Dr. S. Gupta in Baytown and Golden Triangle Physical Therapy. He later joined Dr. Carol Ewing’s practice in Port Acres and worked there for several years.
Throughout his career he often made house calls, trading his services for home cooked meals and fellowship as he felt like his patients were part of his family. He continued to attend medical educational seminars up until his death, priding himself as being the oldest “student” who always possessed a willingness to learn. He encouraged and supported the younger generation to always further their education.
His passions included travel, reading, history, music including George Jones, Mark Chesnutt and Aaron Neville, spending time with his family, and he was an ardent supporter of the Texas Longhorns. He was lifelong member of the VFW, the American Legion, Disabled American Veterans, Texas Medical Association, American Medical Association, Orange County Medical Association, Orange Rotary Club, NAACP and Texas Exes. He was also a volunteer ringside physician for the local Golden Gloves Boxing Association and stood sidelines with Dr. George Eastman at local sporting events
He was preceded in death by his parents; brother Floyd H. Pretz; and his beloved aunt, Zula Currie Campagna.
He is survived by his daughter, Lydia Pretz of Orange; and son, Adrian Pretz of Houston .
Honorary pallbearers include Dr. Howard Williams, Dr. George Hoffman, Grady Johnson, Emmanuel Taylor and Daniel Jackson Jr.
Memorial contributions may be made to Texas Exes Scholarship fund in memory of Dr. Pretz, P.O. Box 7278, Austin, 78713; (512) 471-8083; Inspire XII Foundation, P.O. Box 551, Orange, 77631; Salvation Army, 1960 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, Orange, 77632; or the American Red Cross, 3901 Interstate 10 East, Orange, 77630.

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